Life Story / Obituary
Throughout his rich and rewarding life, Richard Wood made the most of the days he was given while holding his loved ones near and dear to his heart. He was generous beyond compare, and he was forever using his gifts and talents to bless others. Dick was a devoted family man, and he was filled with unspeakable joy to witness his family tree blossom to include the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who filled his heart with such love. A longtime resident of the community he called home throughout the majority of his life, he was the sort of man who never met a stranger. Deeply loved, Dick will be forever missed.
It seems only fitting that Dick’s story began during a time that was as colorful as he was. It was the Roaring Twenties when the silent film era came to an end, cars were mass produced on assembly lines, and baseball legends Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb made baseball America’s favorite pastime. Amidst this exciting time was the year 1928 when Earl and Gladys (Cook) Wood were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named Richard James. He was the younger of two children as he was raised in the Cloverville area of Muskegon on the family’s 10 acres of land alongside his older brother, Wallace. Dick’s father worked at Shaw Walker and was also a very talented carpenter while his mother was a homemaker.
In many ways Dick was a young man of his generation. He attended Beach School and could often be found riding his horse, Danny, down to Black Creek with his dog to go fishing. Dick enjoyed ice skating during the winters. As a teen he worked on the nearby celery farms to earn some extra spending money. His older brother went off to fight in WWII, and as soon as Dick was old enough after the 10th grade he quit school and joined the Army. When WWII came to an end he was stationed in Germany for several years.
With his military duties fulfilled, Dick returned to Muskegon. It was shortly after returning home that he met the young woman who would change the course of his life forever. Her name was Stella Sowa, and she was from a big family. They began dating, and while on a trip to Kentucky with his brother and his wife, Dick and Stella were married in 1948. Together they were blessed with the births of three children, Thomas in 1949, Nancy in 1953, and Mary Beth in 1960. When they were first married, Dick and Stella moved around a bit, but they eventually built a home in the Clark Manor subdivision in Fruitport Township. Dick did much of the construction and finish work himself using skills that he picked up from his father. He kept his home in great condition, fixing whatever needed fixing, and he had a fantastic lawn as well. As a family the Woods attended Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and Dick and his wife sent their children to Catholic schools as well. Dick was very active in the lives of his children as he was there to drive them to all their various sports and lessons and wherever else they needed to go. He also did his best to make it to every event and activity as he always put the needs of his family ahead of his own. Although Dick and Stella divorced in the mid-seventies, they remained friends and eventually spent a lot of time together during their later years.
Dick was known for his strong work ethic. He made a career at Mills Manufacturing where they made products out of bronze and aluminum. Dick started out as a laborer, but he worked his way up there, in time becoming a foreman. He was a dedicated employee who always took care of those who worked for him. Dick retired after 30 years, but he continued to work part-time to make sure things got done right.
Throughout his life Dick was a man of many interests. For years he and Stella had an active social life with neighbors and their extended families. A genuine outdoorsman, Dick loved hunting and fishing. He had a smaller boat and did lots of fishing on the Big Manistee River, often with his son or with his faithful dog, Snoopy. Over the years Dick had several hunting dogs and enjoyed pheasant hunting too. Additionally, Dick enjoyed golfing for years.
Later on, Dick eventually moved back in to his childhood home to take care of his mother until her death. He also kept busy helping his adult children with building projects through the years and especially loved spending time with his grandchildren. Dick did love spoiling his grandchildren, too, as he once brought a whole truck load of Lake Michigan sand down to Illinois for a sand box for his grandchildren! There were trips to Georgia to visit his daughter and grandkids, and he liked taking his grandsons fishing too.
After living on his own for as long as he could, Dick moved in to McAuley Place to receive the care he needed. Although he would have rather lived at home, he did bond with the staff at McAuley Place and was even known to dance with the staff members during music events there.
In everything he did, Richard Wood was a kind and thoughtful man who put others first and foremost. He was a devoted family man who treasured his family, and although he loved being a father he just might have argued that nothing was better than becoming a grandfather and great-grandfather. Dick will be deeply missed but never forgotten.
Richard James Wood passed away Thursday, September 8, 2016. Dick’s family includes his son, Tom (Cindi Kaiser) Wood of Muskegon; daughters, Nancy Sweet of Muskegon and Mary Beth (Jim) Werner of GA; grandchildren, Laura Veihl, Neil Sweet II, Nicholas Sweet, Sara Wood, Adam Wood, Mike Hackey & Matthew Hackey; several great grandchildren; brother, Wallace (Joanne) Wood of Muskegon and many nephews and nieces. Dick was preceded in death by his parents. Services will be held on Saturday, September 17, 2016, 4:00 p.m. at the Clock Chapel - Muskegon Military Honors under the Auspices of the Muskegon County Council of Veterans. Visit with his family and friends on Friday, 5:00-8:00 p.m. at Clock Funeral Home - Muskegon. Memorial contributions can be made to Pound Buddies or the activity fund at Sanctuary at McAuley. Please visit www.clockfuneralhome.com to leave a memory or sign the online guest book.