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R.I.P. Bob Wood

Wood Dining Services chairman passes away.

The life of Bob Wood could be summed up in a single headline: Local boy makes good, does good. Wood, who passed away last weekend at the age of 67, was more than a respected executive in the contract foodservice business. He was an angel to many people and organizations in the Lehigh Valley area of eastern Pennsylvania.

Wood’s father, Scotty founded Wood Dining Services in 1940, and he and Bob combined to build the company into one of the largest foodservice management firms in the U.S. Young Wood started as a sous chef at DeSales University in 1967 and worked his way through the company until 1997, when he became its chairman.

The thing I liked most about the company, and the Woods themselves, was that no matter how large the company grew, they always seemed to maintain the personal, and personable, approach to management employed by much smaller regional firms. Scotty and Bob never forgot their roots, never became so big that they lost touch with their clients.

By 2001, the company had grown so large in both revenue and stature that it became a prime target in the merger and acquisition frenzy occurring in that decade between 1995 and 2005. Wood was purchased, and then slowly absorbed, by the French firm Sodexo. Bob stayed on as an executive, in his office in Allentown, Pa., until he retired in 2009.

Remaining local allowed Bob to do what he loved most—giving back to the community. From education institutions to charitable trusts, on the stage and behind the scenes, Bob worked tirelessly to help better his community. (For a story on Bob Wood’s work in the Lehigh Valley, click here.)

His name in the foodservice industry may have faded into the background, but in his hometown it will live on in all the good that he has done.

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