William Jerry Wood of Lexington passed away on Sunday, Jan. 16, at his home.
The son of the late Oscar Benjamin and Faye Hooper Wood, Mr. Wood was born in Commerce, Ga., started his career at Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, Tenn., and made Lexington his home for more than a half century. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
As a young man, Mr. Wood’s family moved around Appalachia. During this period, Mr. Wood’s father was following his calling to serve Baptist congregations around the region, as a minister. His father also owned a dry cleaning business, in which the entire family pitched in. At the age of 18, Mr. Wood started his career at Eastman in Kingsport, Tenn., where the family had settled.
Mr. Wood devoted more than four decades in leadership and management to Eastman Chemical Company. With the exception of his family, Mr. Wood did not take more pride in anything than his work. He left an indelible mark on the company and its employees, many of whom continue to pass down the lessons they learned working with Mr. Wood. He taught a Machine, Tool, Technology class to local technical college students for more than 15 years.
The Midlands Technical College Life Skills Center is named in honor of Mr. Wood. Since opening in 2014, the center has helped Midlands Tech students prepare for life after school by honing essential skills needed to start a career.
The father of Lou Wood Kennedy, Mr. Wood embraced life in the Midlands of South Carolina when he relocated his family here, in 1965, as he continued to grow in management at Eastman. Mr. Wood was active in community endeavors, such as service organizations like the Lions Club, hobby-focused clubs, such as the Antique Car Club of America South Carolina Chapter, and in the Baptist church. His daughter, beaming with pride, called Mr. Wood the greatest man she has ever known, and he loved watching the role she plays in making her own mark today on the community he chose as their family home.
Mr. Wood met his wife, Nancy Thomas Wood, as a teenager. They dated as students at East Tennessee State University. His father married the couple. Mr. and Mrs. Wood celebrated 61 years of marriage last year.
Surviving Mr. Wood are his daughter Lou Wood Kennedy of Lexington (Bill), granddaughter Xanna Bailey of Lexington (Travis), and great-grandson Lincoln Bailey. Mr. Wood is also survived by Paul Wood (Mildred), Sarah Benson, Daniel Wood (Cara), Rebecca (Chuck) and countless nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. The family wants to say a special thank you to Amya Bryant for the love and care she provided over the last five months.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Midlands Technical College Foundation at (803) 732-5222 or Office of Philanthropy, PO Box 2408, Columbia, SC 29202.
Visitation is at 5 p.m. and a celebration of life will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Caughman-Harman Funeral Home on Wednesday, Jan. 19.
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