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Monday, March 27, 2023

James Wofford of Upperville died Feb.2

Reprinted from the Fauguier Times

By Betsy Burke Parker/Special to the Fauquier Times Feb 3, 2023

Jimmy Wofford USEFJimmy Wofford (Photo from USEF)One of the world’s most respected horsemen, sportsmen, writers and racontuers, Upperville’s James C. “Jimmy” Wofford died Feb. 2, following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 78.

Wofford's impact on the Fauquier, Virginia, U.S. and global equestrian community as a rider, trainer, mentor and horseman was immeasurable.

He was equally well-considered in the fishing community and was an active member of the northern Fauquier community.

A graduate of the Culver Military Academy in Indiana, Wofford studied at the University of Colorado's school of business.

His involvement with horses was no accident. Wofford's father, Col. John W. “Gyp” Wofford, was a cavalry officer in the U.S. Army, for a period based at the cavalry remount station in Front Royal. Gyp Wofford competed on the U.S. show jumping team at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles.


WOFFORD once said he “was raised on horseback at Fort Riley,” in Kansas, when his father was stationed there. His older brothers, John “Jeb” Wofford and Warren Wofford, also represented the U.S. on Olympic equestrian squads, Jeb Wofford in 1952, Warren Wofford in 1956.
jimmy Wofford

Jimmy Woofford on The OptimistJimmy Woofford on The Optimist (Photo from the USEF)Jim Wofford was listed among the 50 most influential horsemen in history by the Chronicle of the Horse magazine, and is a member of the U.S. Eventing Association Hall of Fame.

He represented the U.S. at the 1968 and 1972 Olympics, winning team silver both times and an individual silver in the sport of three-day eventing. He competed at the 1980 alternate Games, and won team bronze at the 1970 and 1978 World Championships.

He won team gold at the 1967 Pan Ams.

In addition to Wofford’s eventing achievements, he rode on the Virginia point-to-point circuit and foxhunted for more than two decades.

His wife, Gail, was longtime joint-master of the Upperville-based Piedmont Foxhounds.

Following his retirement as a competitor, Wofford continued his career as a highly respected coach and trainer. All four members of the three-day event squad that won team bronze and individual gold (David O’Connor) at the Sydney Olympics were products of Wofford coaching and were based in Fauquier and Loudoun counties.

Wofford coached the Canadian team for the 2002 World Championships and the 2003 Pan Ams (where Canada won team silver).

Jimmy Wofford fly fishing Douglas Lees“Jim and I shared seven subjects of mutual appreciation: horses, good writing, fly-fishing, country music, single-malt whisky, life-its-ownself, and Bill Steinkraus,” said Steve Price, a longtime intimate and contemporary of Wofford’s. “In the course of our 35-plus years of friendship, whether via correspondence or when I came a-calling to Northern Virginia, we swapped yarns, and in the time-honored practice of good friends, we never let the truth stand in the way of a good story.

“Brother Wofford always ended our sessions with a hearty ‘to be continued.’ I hope so.

“Until then, I’d like to believe that, wading under the far side of the Rainbow Bridge, Jim will be casting a perfect drift and hooking into the rising trout of his dreams,” Price said.
james wofford fly fishing

Jim Wofford was an avid sportsman. In this photo he is fly fishing Rose River, near Syria, Virginia.
Photo by Douglas Lees

“We are unbelievably lucky to have had him in our lives,” said Sheila DeHart, a Powhatan-based rider and teacher who was a self-described Wofford superfan, often training with him and taking every opportunity to attend his clinics and course evaluations. “He was an extraordinary coach and quite the storyteller. The horse world, the entire world, has lost a legend.”

He was president of the American Horse Shows Association (now the U.S. Equestrian Federation).

A respected author, Wofford wrote a number of books, including his 2021 memoir, “Still Horse Crazy After All These Years.”

Wofford lived with wife of 45 years, Gail W. Wofford, at Fox Covert Farm in Upperville. They have two daughters, Hillary Jones and Jennifer Ince, and several grandchildren.

Memorial plans have not been released.

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