Woodward Family Hosts The President

Cheryl Woodward got a bucket of candy Thursday.

"Did you ever see presidential M&Ms?" she asked.

Several boxes of M&Ms were in the bucket. Each box had the president's seal. So did two bottles of champagne. The small keepsakes came from George W. Bush's visit to Long Beach.

"Yesterday was a really exciting day. It was fabulous," Catherine Woodward said.

Mrs. Woodward was asked to host the president while he was in town.

"He made me feel so at ease," the Woodward family matriarch said. "I felt like I'd known him my whole life."

President Bush's visit was so different than the scenes in a family photo album from 18 months ago. Guy and Catherine Woodward were like so many other Long Beach families. Their Fourth Street home got demolished. And so did 13 other family properties in a three block radius. The family survived.

"We don't let anybody within the family feel sorry for themselves. As long as we have each other, we're good," Cheryl said.

That spirit was evident when Mr. Woodward told his wife they were rebuilding on their Long Beach slab.

"Oh yes. This was his home. He always wanted to live back here," Catherine said.

On October 5, 2006, Mrs. Woodward got a phone call. The family's $52,000 rebuilding grant had been approved. So she rushed over to the attorney's office and signed the paperwork. And then her husband did. That night, with so much hope in the air, the unthinkable happened. Guy Woodward passed away.

"In fact, they started framing the house on the day of his funeral," Mrs. Woodward remembered. She paused for a second, and then said, "It was hard to believe."

After the initial shock, Mrs. Woodward kept Guy's dream alive. In six weeks, she'll move into a home designed by her husband of 55 years.

"I don't want to be anyplace else. My daughter is rebuilding across the street. My son is in the back. So my family is here. This is my home," she said.

Catherine Woodward's new home is three feet higher than the one Katrina destroyed. She originally moved onto that property with her husband in 1962.