Robert A. long-term companion of Mary Armor. Father of Bob Wood, Jr., Randy Wood, Tracy (Nick Jevic) Wood. Grandfather of Eric and Tyler Wood, Alex and Caty Jevic. Brother of Gladys Wuerdeman. Preceded in death by his wife Mary Wood, brother Donald Wood and grandson Evan Wood. May 19, 2011. Age 87 years. Visitation will be Tues. May 24th from 10:00 A.M. until the time of the funeral services 11:00 A.M. at the Radel Funeral Home, 650 Neeb Road, 451-8800. If so desired memorials may be made to Christ Hospital Foundation, 2139 Auburn Ave., 45219.
Robert A. Wood held titles in his long life that spoke of power and political influence – city solicitor, county judge, Hamilton County commissioner, domestic relations judge.
But there was one word far more powerful than those, a word infinitely more meaningful to those who called him a friend.
That word was “gentleman.”
“A superb person, through and through,’’ said former Hamilton County judge Robert Gorman, who formed a fast friendship with Mr. Wood over the years, despite their being from different political parties. “Just a fine gentleman.”
Mr. Wood, who lived in Delhi Township, died early Thursday morning at Christ Hospital after a long illness, 11 days after his 87th birthday.
His longtime companion, Mary Armor of Mount Adams, said the former Republican office-holder was “a gentle man;’’ Mr. Wood’s doctor, who treated him in the last days of his life, described him as a “a gentleman’s gentleman.”
For four decades, Mr. Wood, a Republican, was a major force in Hamilton County politics, from his days as the city solicitor in his hometown of Cheviot in the 1950s into the 1980s, when he served as a domestic relations court judge.
But, long before he was a politician, he was an infantryman, serving his country in World War II, as the Allies fought their way across Europe to destroy Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime.
He was just out of Western Hills High School when he joined the Army. In June 1944, he sailed the Atlantic and landed with U.S. troops at the beach in Normandy, where, six days earlier, the D-Day invasion had occurred.
After Paris was liberated, Mr. Wood, a military policeman, helped guard Nazi officers taken prisoner in the French capital.
Armor said that in 1998, she and Mr. Wood went on a cruise that took them to the Normandy beachhead where he had landed with thousands of other infantrymen 44 years before.
“It was an emotional experience for him, coming back after all those years,’’ Armor said.
Armor said she gathered some sand from the beach and, later, framed the sand and photos of Mr. Wood in uniform as a gift.
He was “so appreciative of what he called my thoughtfulness. Of course, there was no mention of the fact that he gave up almost three years of his life for this war.”
After his Army service, Mr. Wood went to the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a degree in political science and received his law degree from the UC College of Law.
In 1958, he was elected county judge – the job is called municipal court judge now – and was assigned to Delhi Township, Green Township and the city of Cheviot.
In Dec. 1958, Mr. Wood traveled to Washington, D.C., with two other new judges – William Morrissey and Richard Morr – for a special session of the U.S. Supreme Court, where they were to be admitted to practice before the high court.
They waited around for hours, the Enquirer reported, and, finally, “a disgruntled Mr. Wood called a fellow Cincinnatian, Justice Potter Stewart, who had joined the court that year.
The three Cincinnati lawyers went to lunch and Mr. Wood was called to the telephone and told to come to the Supreme Court immediately. They hopped in a cab and walked into a special session called by Justice Stewart to swear them in.
“We have not established a precedent by this action,’’ Chief Justice Earl Warren announced.
In April 1963, the Republican Party appointed him to a vacancy on the board of county commissioners, and he stayed on that board for nearly 20 years – winning elections in 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976 and 1980.
“We were so fortunate to have Bob as a county commissioner all those years,’’ said Gorman, a Democrat. “He was a fine public servant and always made a lot of wise decisions.”
Out-going Gov. James Rhodes appointed Mr. Wood to a domestic relations judgeship on Jan. 5, 1983 and he was elected to the balance of the term the next year.
In 1988 Hamilton County Republican Party leaders came to Mr. Wood and asked him to take the county recorder’s job after incumbent Jake Held resigned in the midst of a controversy over a computer system.
Mr. Wood took the appointment, reluctantly, but was not elected that year.
Tracy Cook, the executive director of ProKids, which provides legal and other aid to foster children, worked for Mr. Wood while she was in law school and in the recorder’s office.
“When you graduate from school, I think you go out into the world looking for your next teacher,’’ Cook said. “Bob was that for me; and I couldn’t have been luckier.”
Mr. Wood, Cook said, “taught me that practicing law and public service could be done honorably.”
In recent years, Mr. Wood took enormous pride in the accomplishments of his grandson, Eric Wood, a star football player who went on to play for the University of Louisville. In 2009, Eric Wood was a first-round draft pick of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, where he plays the guard position.
Mr. Wood is preceded in death by his wife, Mary Wood. His survivors include two sons, Bob Wood Jr., Cheviot; and Randy Wood, Price Hill; a daughter, Tracy Wood, Mariemont, a sister, Gladys Wuerdeman, Green Township; and four grandchildren.
Visitation will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Radel Funeral Home, 650 Neeb Road, Delhi Township, with a service following visitation.
Memorials: Christ Hospital Foundation, 2139 Auburn Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45219.