Robs Genealogy
Woodson Lineage
Person Page 45


Marianna WOODSON (F)
b. 6 March 1924, d. 15 January 2004
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Pedigree for Marianna WOODSON
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Woodson, Marianna. March 1952.
     Marianna WOODSON was born on 6 March 1924 at Charlottesville, Virginia. She was the daughter of Robert Singleton WOODSON and Janie James McDILL. Marianna WOODSON died on 15 January 2004 at age 79; Arlington, VA
Interred at Arlington National Cemetary on 26 January 2004.
     As of 8 March 1952,her married name was COBB.1 She Marianna Woodson Cobb
Pioneer in Telecommunications Engineering

Marianna Woodson Cobb died peacefully at home on January 15, 2004 in Arlington, VA at age 79 after a rich and full life of engineering, family and leading charitable activities. Born in Charlottesville, VA, on March 6, 1924, she graduated from Hot Springs (Ark.) high school. Her father, Dr. Robert Singleton Woodson was a Presbyterian minister. Her mother was Janie James McDill of Chester County, SC. Marianna graduated with distinction in mathematics from Southwestern in Memphis, TN (now Rhodes College). She raised four children in Arlington, Virginia, at the same time as she was building an impressive career as a professional radio and television consulting Engineer.

She worked for the government for a short time during World War II for the topographic branch of the United States Geological Survey, making war maps from aerial photographs.

After the war, she began her career in broadcasting as a registered professional engineer with the radio and television consulting engineering firm of Kear and Kennedy, Washington, DC. She was then one of only two women working in Washington as registered professional engineers in the broadcast industry. An article in the New Orleans Item in January 1951 emphasized her pioneering role in the field:

"When Maryanna arrived in New Orleans December 26 to check the frequency of the city's newest radio station, WBOK, Stanley Ray was admittedly upset. "No Women" "I called the Washington, DC engineering firm of Kear and Kennedy and told them we didn't want a woman. They said we'd take her or wait 10 days until they had someone else to send down. "We were in a rush to get on the air," says the manager. "We took her. And we're pleased." Mr. Ray concluded. "She helped pull our signals out of the Gulf, where they would be wasted, and directed them northward."

Mrs. Cobb, "worked from sunup to sunset in the field, and labored over maps and charts late at night. She finished the job two weeks ahead of the minimum schedule. That was a feat within itself. But the greatest victory she won in New Orleans was showing Mr. Ray and his staff of engineers that a woman is as capable and efficient as a man".

In the course of her work for station WBOK, she became the first woman to use a helicopter for radio station signal strength measurement. Because of the bayous around New Orleans it would have taken too long to make the measurements on the ground. The newspaper article continued "She was plenty nervous and airsick that first ride," say her coworkers. "But she was a good sport."

Her daughters remember their mother telling about the time when her boss, Dr. Frank Kear, brought in the plans for the Empire State Building and said for her to get her antenna catalogs because she was going to help design the broadcast antennas for the top of the Empire State Building. She even climbed up on the tower to check on her work!

Marianna, along with her husband and mother-in-law, built, owned and operated radio stations in Williamsburg, Virginia (WBCI) and in Easton, Maryland (WEMD).

She and her husband, Richard Cobb were consultants for the World Bank for proposed fishing projects off the coast of West Africa. Marianna investigated the feasibility of the communications aspect while her husband was evaluating the availability of species for proposed fishery operations.

After employment with Kear and Kennedy, she worked for Silliman, Moffet and Kowalski, Washington, DC which later became "Moffett Larson and Johnson, Inc". In November 1985, she became a principal in the firm. Among other accomplishments at the firm, was her engineering work which resulted in the allocation of television channel 22 in Baltimore, MD, the channel now used by station WMBT, Annapolis.

In November 1991, she was recognized by the Washington Area Chapter of the "Broadcast Pioneers" for her "many valuable contributions and years of distinguished service to broadcasting." To her great amusement, the plaque commerating her award recognizes "his" contributions to broadcasting. She treasured the plaque as another indication of her pioneering role as a woman in the field of broadcast engineering.

She retired, following the 1992 sale of Moffet, Larson and Johnson to a subsidiary of the Washington Post Company. She enjoyed her retirement through fund raising and bridge. She is a past president of the Northern Virginia Alliance (formerly Assistance) League and an active member in the Neighbor's Club. In college and until her passing she was a enthusiastic member of Tri-Delta Sorority and along with her husband enjoyed membership in the Washington Golf and Country Club.

She is survived by her husband of 52 years, Richard S. Cobb; four children, Mary Jane Reyes of Mason Neck, VA; Sandra Cobb Tyson of Fairfax, VA; Richard Sicard Cobb, Jr. of Stratham, NH; and Robert Woodson Cobb of Yorktown, VA; and seven grandchildren.

A gathering of friends will be held on Monday, January 19, 2004 at Murphy's Funeral Home from 6:00 to 8:00 PM. The memorial service will be held at the Church of the Covenant, Arlington, VA the following day at 2:00 PM, with a reception immediately following at the Washington Golf and Country Club in Arlington, VA, In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Arlington Free Clinic, 2926 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204. Interment at Arlington Cemetery.

Submitted by:

Richard S. Cobb and family
3849 30th Street North
Arlington, VA 22207

Home Telephone: 703 527 7410
Work Telephone: 703 525 7566
Fax: 703 524 5290 on 19 January 2004.


  1. [S27] Interview, Richard Cobb.


Rob Reyes

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