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Robert Wood

November 11, 1948 - October 27, 2020

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Boulger Funeral Home

Robert Wood

November 11, 1948 - October 27, 2020

Obituary

Dr. Robert A. Wood—scholar, veteran, and family man—passed away at the age of 72 on October 27, 2020, at Bethany on University, Fargo, following an extended illness.

The son of a military man, Bob was born November 11, 1948, in Memphis, Tennessee, and spent much of his early life with his family at military posts domestic and abroad. Bob enjoyed the travel opportunities and the chance to experience different environments and cultures, especially his family’s stays in Taiwan and France. Bob went from high school right into the United States Army Medical Corps, serving from 1967 to 1970 in Korea, Germany, and Vietnam, where he saw action in combat zones. At one point he was the only medical corpsman serving at Fire Support Base Barbara, which conducted artillery interdiction on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Corpsman Wood’s record was distinguished: among his decorations were the Korea Defense Service Medal, the National Defense Medal, the Armed Services Expeditionary Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Service Medal, the Distinguished Unit Citation, the Good Conduct Medal, and the Rifle Marksmanship Medal, along with the Vietnam Service Medal and ribbon with two battle stars.

After his military service, Bob pursued higher education, completing his BS and MS degrees in Political Science at Pittsburg State University in 1973 and 1975. In 1983, he earned his PhD in Political Science, with distinction, from University of Missouri—Columbia. His concentrated areas of studies were in Public Law, Public Administration, and Comparative Polities.

Following graduate school, Bob spent his entire academic career in the service of North Dakota State University, joining the faculty in 1981 as assistant professor of Political Science, eventually rising to the position of department head. He conducted significant applied research on the problem of drinking and driving in North Dakota and, with Nona Wood, on issues of student rights and discipline. He was best known, however, for his expertise on the subject of domestic terrorism, which international media—including the BBC—featured at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Dr. Wood as a professor was beloved, revered, and feared. His no-nonsense approach to the teaching of constitutional law was legendary. Many of his students went on to be become policemen, border patrol agents, highway patrol officers, and attorneys. He was the founder and long-time advisor to NDSU’s Pre-Law Club, and he challenged his students intellectually in their writing and scholarship. Trial lawyer David R. Clouston of the Dallas firm Sessions, Israel & Shartle credits the education and preparation he received with Bob for his later success in a competitive law school and in securing a first-rate first job. Not long ago, Clouston took the time to share with Bob his appreciation for Bob’s effect on his life and career and, as Clouston since described, “the everlasting impact Dr. Wood left with his former students and their families. I am proud and honored to be part of the Dr. Wood legacy.”

Bob retired from NDSU in 2008 for medical reasons. In recent years he gave invaluable volunteer service and support to the development of North Dakota State University Press. Long-time colleague Thomas D. Isern, University Distinguished Professor of History, declares, “There is no better example of institutional service and loyalty to NDSU than Dr. Bob Wood.”

This fall, Bob and his wife, Nona Lee Wood, celebrated their forty-ninth anniversary, along with their daughter, Elizabeth Anne Wood, and their son, Michael Coleman Wood. Bob was very close to his sister Terry Wood and found great comfort in his phone conversations with her during his extended illness of many months. Bob was devoted to his family; throughout his months-long health ordeals, he maintained a unique sense of humor and a deep sense of justice. Due to Covid-19 safety measures, family visits with Bob while hospitalized were by necessity brief and mostly not allowed at all. Nona was able to spend only an hour with him shortly before his death, the result of exposure to Agent Orange during his military service. Despite the tragic health consequences from his service, Bob told his wife on several occasions that if health had permitted, he would gladly have served his country again.

In his retirement years as Professor Emeritus, Bob was an avid student of military history, especially related to his service years in Vietnam, and he loved traveling with Nona to many of America’s national parks, especially Theodore Roosevelt National Park. He took pleasure in his role at NDSU Press, and he was known for his dedication to Bison Football, attending his last game in the dome on Saturday, December 7, 2019.

In addition to Nona, Elizabeth, Michael, and Terry, Bob is survived by his step-mother, Dorothy Wood; siblings John Wood and Mary Wood; mother-in-law Mary Raney; sisters-in law Debbie (and Dan) Lindeman and Mary (and Darrell) Turley.

In lieu of flowers or other gestures of sympathy, the family suggests gifts to the Support Our Veterans Fund (https://www.nd.gov/veterans/support-veterans) administered by the North Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs.

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6 responses to “Robert Wood”

  1. Jill Stevenson says:

    Nona keeping you in my prayers. Love you your cousin
    Jill

  2. Judy Ary says:

    His obituary is a beautiful testament to a life well-lived. My deepest sympathy to you, Nona and your family.

  3. Heather Turner says:

    Nona. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I pray for your comfort and the comfort of those you and Bob loved well.

  4. Joel Vettel says:

    Thank you Sir for your outstanding service to your students and to the NDSU community. Your commitment to education guided many young people to careers in law enforcement. Your stern but fair approach to educating will be missed at our university. Rest in Peace Dr. Wood.

  5. Kevin Thompson says:

    Nona,

    Please accept my heartfelt sympathy in losing Bob. Bob was an excellent instructor and was beloved by so many students over so many years at NDSU. He will be remembered by many practicing professionals whose careers he helped by laying the foundation and groundwork in his teachings. His service to his country is truly something that everyone in his circle can be proud of. Rest in peace Robert.

  6. Robert W Martin says:

    Bob was my advisor, instructor, and motivator prior to law school. I graduated from NDSU in ’85 and Hamline in ’88. I just happened across his obituary when surfing the net. I am so sorry for your family’s loss–he was larger than life and I always enjoyed his classes and presentation. I will never forget the twang in his voice when he would state “the thang is..” and his story about the committee nit-picking his thesis for using the word “irregardless”.

    Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.

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