By his late 20s, Jack Woodside was married with two small boys and embarking on a career in medicine.

His future brimmed with promise.

Then his wife, Alice, was institutionalized after suffering a psychiatric breakdown. Eventually, they would divorce. It was 1955, and Woodside found himself abruptly thrust into the unexpected role of a single parent with sole custody of his children.

The doctor, who died of covid-19 on Jan. 3 at the age of 95, did not falter. He moved in with his parents, who helped care for his sons, and opened a family practice in Falls Church. At all hours, he headed out to make house calls.

“I remember he had a great big doctor’s bag filled with medicines and syringes,” said his son, Jack Woodside Jr. “Any day or night of the week, he might be called out to someone’s house.”

Woodside came to want a more predictable schedule. He decided to specialize in anesthesiology, completing his residency at Doctor’s Hospital in the District. He later became director of anesthesiology at Alexandria Hospital.

It was at the hospital where he met Carolyn Clark, a pediatric nurse. They dated for a couple of years, then married, and moved with Woodside’s boys into a home of their own.

Jack Woodside Jr., a retired physician and professor in East Tennessee, said his stepmother quit her nursing job and focused her attention on caring for her new husband’s sons.

“For all intents and purposes, she is my mother,” he said. “She is the person who raised me.”

When he wasn’t working, the elder Woodside liked to tinker with his car, cook jambalaya, drive out to cornfields to hunt dove and quail, and take his family out on the Potomac in his motorboat. He often described himself as an independent when talking politics, someone who would vote for the best qualified candidate.

But, his son said, “the best candidate was always a Republican.” He described his father as an avid supporter of President Richard Nixon, even after the Watergate scandal ended Nixon’s second term: “There was a bit of a streak of intolerance in him when it came to progressive politics.”

Woodside became involved with several professional associations, including the Virginia Society of Anesthesiologists. He spent time in Richmond lobbying for medical malpractice reform.

After retiring in the late 1980s, Woodside traveled with his wife to the Smoky Mountains and to parks such as Banff and Jasper in Alberta, Canada. A gregarious man, he could be content relaxing and bantering with his family, which grew to include three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

One subject Woodside never broached, his son said, was the difficulty he faced as a young father when his first wife became ill. He was of a generation of men who did not discuss the details of their emotional lives.

“I suspect it was traumatic,” Jack Woodside Jr. said. “My dad never talked about it. He kept a stiff upper lip.”

When talking about his second wife, to whom he was wed for 59 years, the doctor often said that marrying her was the best decision he ever made.