Family and friends gathered Monday for what the bulletin titled: “A Service of Witness to the Resurrection and in Memory of Robert Dean Wood” (1928 – 2018). Bill and I attended because we had known Bob and Gene during our years in Wilmore, KY, and Greenwood, IN. At the start of the service Bob’s older daughter held up the letter her dad sent his four children – a detailed plan for his funeral service. Bob indicated not only what hymns should be included, but how they should be sung – with reverence for the majesty of God. We began with “Holy, Holy, Holy” and concluded with Charles Wesley’s “And Can It Be” accompanied on the organ in grand style.
Several people gave tribute to Bob, telling stories as well as giving thanks for his life. On the way to and from church I related to Bill two of my memories. Bob was my boss at both Good News magazine and One Mission Society, then known simply as OMS.
At Good News my office was located directly across the hall from Bob. I noticed how neat he kept his desk, not like the stack of mail and to-do projects piled on my desk. I asked Bob for his secret. I knew the executive director gave him projects, and he also received mail. Bob had one simple rule for whatever reached his desk. He would handle it once. When he read a letter and it needed an answer, he wrote it at once. If a project needed research, he filed it or started collecting data. If a circular had no significance, he tossed it in the ’round file.’ Bob did not put something aside for later consideration; he handled it promptly. That made good sense and I’ve tried to mimic his system, but not always successfully.
In Greenwood where we four worked for OMS, Bill would occasionally be called out of town to represent the mission. That gave Bob, Gene and me an opportunity to have a liver and onion dinner together with mashed potatoes and gravy. Liver is the one item of food that Bill will not eat, but the Woods and I loved it. We would trade off on whose home would host the liver dinner.
After we moved away from each other, we did not connect as we would have enjoyed. Only at Christmas we caught up with our lives by reading each other’s annual letters. No need to express regret; that’s the way life happens. During visitation before the memorial service we greeted three of the Woods’ children who had all attended Asbury College (along with at least one other relative) and who had “Doctor Coker” as their professor for Basic Christian Beliefs. That class served as Bill’s trademark, for what he taught then has formed the lives of this family and more.