Muhlenberg trustee Robert Wood died October 29 after a long fight with brain cancer. He was 67. Although Wood, an Allentown businessman, was a graduate of Cornell University, the Wood family has been associated with Muhlenberg for many decades. In 1948, Wood’s family business, Wood Dining Services – at the time run by Wood’s father, Milton “Scotty” Wood – provided Muhlenberg with its first food dining services, a partnership that still continues after 63 years. Since its founding, Wood Dining Services had become the fourth-largest food-service company in the nation. In 2001, the company was purchased by the Sodexo Group, one of the largest food-service management companies in the world. Wood worked at Sodexo through 2009. The new campus restaurant at Muhlenberg, dedicated in August 2010, is named the “Ilene and Robert Wood Dining Commons,” after Wood and his wife.
The College benefitted from Wood’s generosity in other areas as well. Muhlenberg’s athletic stadium, built in 1999, is named Scotty Wood Stadium, and Bob Wood served as a chair for another of his father’s namesakes, the Scotty Wood Tournament, the annual men’s and women’s basketball tournament that began in 1982 at Muhlenberg.
Wood and his wife dedicated much of their lives to charitable work. “Bob could have hired servants to do anything he wanted done,” says Muhlenberg President Randy Helm. “Instead he chose to serve others.” Wood also was involved with the Harry C. Trexler Trust, the Allentown Art Museum and the United Way of the Lehigh Valley. It also was not at all rare to find Wood conducting unplanned acts of charity for those in the area who needed it most, and there are many nonprofit organizations throughout the Lehigh Valley that have been effected by Wood’s altruism.
Helm sums up Wood’s character best when he says, “He was unfailingly kind, unfailingly generous, always ready with a good idea, a kind word, an offer of help…he had so much to be proud of but was always modest.” A memorial service was held for Wood on November 2, in Egner Memorial Chapel.