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Billy Gene ""Bill"" Wood

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Billy Gene ""Bill"" Wood Obituary
Wood, Billy Gene "Bill"
85; was born November 9, 1929 right at the time of the Wall Street Stock Market Crash! His young parents, L. Dale and Rosamund (Funk) Wood divorced and gave custody of Bill, age 4, to his maternal great-aunt and uncle, Nell and Harry Howe. Custody of his sister Rosemary, age 2, was given to her maternal grandparents. The Howes nursed Bill back to health on a big farm where Bill developed a life-long interest in electricity, storage batteries, machinery, wind and solar power. He graduated valedictorian of his Casey, Illinois high school class at the age of 16. He then went to Eastern Illinois State University majoring in chemistry, and graduated at age 20 with his Bachelor's degree. He and three of his buddies enlisted in the Air Force for a four-year term; and went through basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. He was then sent to Biloxi, Mississippi for specialized training in radar. He was later transferred to work with the civilian Ground Observation Corp in Minneapolis, Minnesota; where volunteers would look for suspicious aircraft violating our northern borders. Always a life-long learner, while he was stationed at Minneapolis he enrolled pat-time at the University of Minnesota. There he met his sweetheart: Ellen Jacobson... it was love at first sight! They married on his birthday (so he would never forget their anniversary) on Nov. 9, 1952. Bill was sent to Anchorage, Alaska to man a radar site on Fire Island in the Bay of Anchorage. Ellen came a few months later and got a teaching job in Palmer, Alaska. After his four-year enlistment was up, Bill enrolled at the University of California, Berkley; to get another degree in Physics. After graduation, he accepted a position as an Engineer at Goodyear Aerospace in Goodyear, Arizona. They loved Arizona because of the warm weather, no snow or cold! Their daughter Lorelei was born in 1959, and Bill earned his masters' degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Arizona in 1960. IBM recruited Bill away from Goodyear Aerospace to work in their research and development division in Endicott, New York - back to the snow and cold! While there he and his group invented automatic check sorting machines. Their son Travis Wood, was born in 1962 in Endicott, NY. The terrible upstate weather sent the young family back to Arizona where Bill rejoined Goodyear Aerospace; he worked on side scanning radar for the Air Force - his former employer! Always busy he taught Electronics and Technology two nights a week at Phoenix College, in addition to his 'day job' as an engineer. He retired from Goodyear Aerospace in 1977 and accepted a position as a professor of Engineering and Technology at Arizona State University, where he transferred his love of science, engineering and discovery to many generations of future scientists for the next 22 years. He retired from ASU in 1999, but continued to teach adjunct at Rio Salado (online instructor at the age of 73!) and at Chandler-Gilbert community college; where he and his daughter, Dr. Lorelei Wood, taught a chemistry class together - she the lecture and Bill the lab; Bill was 75 at the time. Bill belonged to a vast number of service organizations and clubs, his earliest was Ham Radio where he served to connect soldiers and their family members via radio during the Vietnam War. Other various electronics groups and clubs, even the ASU Faculty Senate (no, he didn't wear a toga!), model airplanes, Boy Scouts, neighborhood block watch groups, even as a volunteer flood irrigation trouble-shooter for his Mesa flood irrigation neighborhood, and the American Legion. Bill was also an avid bass fisherman. Bill was blessed with incredible energy and drive. He kept active until he passed away on September 20, 2015. He enjoyed volunteer work and was ready to help anyone with his cheerful disposition and contagious curiosity. Bill is survived by his wife Ellen of 62 years, daughter Dr. Lorelei Wood, and 4 grandchildren: John Jacob (in graduate school at Cornell), Taylor Alexander (a junior at ASU), Garrick Clark, and Veronica Louise of Lancaster, California. Daughter-in-law Katherine Wood also of Lancaster, and three sisters, one brother, and one aunt. Bill was preceded in death by his son Travis T. Wood in 2010. Funeral services and burial will be at Mariposa Gardens Funeral Home, 400 S. Power Road in Mesa (Southwest corner of Broadway and Power Road 480-830-4422) on Saturday, September 26, 2015 at 3PM with viewing at 2PM. Everyone is invited to celebrate Bill's amazing life at the services with refreshments to follow. In lieu of flowers, please send a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project 4150 N. Drinkwater Blvd., Suite 100 Scottsdale, AZ 480-946-0663.

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Published in The Arizona Republic from Sept. 23 to Sept. 25, 2015
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