Irvin C. Wood
Irvin C. Wood, of Roanoke, went to be with his Lord on Friday, Aug. 9, 2013. He was born on April 17, 1923, in Roanoke, Va., on Marshall Avenue to J. Guy Wood and Ruth E. Wood.
At age 3 years old, because of his father’s poor health and lack of a job, he was sent to live with his father’s sister, Odessa Wood DeWitt and her husband, Clark DeWitt, on their dairy and fruit farm at the foot of Flat Top Mountain in the Stoney Creek section of Bedford County.
His sister, Arline, 6, went with him. While it was hard to be separated from their birth parents at this early age, they were very fortunate to find a home with such loving foster parents, who raised them in a very Christian environment.
The hard work of farm life also formed strong character in both children.
They attended Stoney Fork Elementary School, a half-mile from their home, where one teacher taught seven grades with small numbers of children in each grade.
When Wood came back to Roanoke to live with his birth parents at 11 years old, he spent six months in the sixth grade at Virginia Heights Elementary School, but was so far ahead of other students in that grade, the school sent him to Woodrow Wilson Junior High for the seventh grade.
He also skipped the eighth grade there and was sent to Lee Junior High for the 10th grade as Jefferson High was so crowded at that time. He finished the 11th and 12th grade there and graduated in 1941.
He studied journalism there and was sports editor of the Jefferson News. While in school, he also carried the Roanoke Times in the Norwich and old Southwest Roanoke area, and worked at Meredith’s Market on Grandin Road after school and on Saturday.
During his senior year in high school, he was hired as a part time office boy for the Division Office of American Oil Company in downtown Roanoke in the Colonial American Office Building on the corner of Jefferson and Campbell Avenue. There he handled incoming and outgoing mail, ran the various office machines, and filled in for management secretaries during their absence.
This job paid 40 cents an hour but in a short time, he gave up his paper route and worked full time for the sum of $85 a month, a princely sum in Roanoke, at that time. A few months later, he was transferred to Charleston, and promoted to office clerk and secretary to the manager of the company’s barge terminal and distribution center. A short time later, he was approaching draft age, so he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at Charleston, and was sent to Parris Island, S.C. for boot camp. Upon graduation, he was sent to Camp Lejeune, N.C., for advanced combat training. He served with the 1st Marine Division in the South Pacific and finally on Okinawa where, as a Sergeant, he commanded platoon and company size troops in combat, due to the heavy officer casualties.
When the fighting was over there, he was reassigned to the headquarters company of the 5th Marine Regiment to serve as the assistant to the operations planning and training officer for the regiment. As such, he participated in the combat planning for the Regiment as part of the 1st Marine Division’s upcoming invasion of Japan. His Division, as part of the 3rd Corps, was at sea, escorted by Halsey’s Seventh fleet, approaching Tokoyo Bay, when the second atomic bomb was dropped. Almost immediately, Japanese bombers, painted in white with a red cross, passed over the fleet on their way to Okinawa to surrender.
They were rerouted to the Philippines so McArthur would get the credit. The 3rd Corps was then sent to North China to effect the surrender of the Japanese forces there and to keep the Communist forces in Manchura from taking over, until the Nationalist forces could occupy this area. The 1st Marine Division was headquarted in Peking. Irvin returned home in 1946 and resumed his career with American Oil Company as the manager of the Charleston plant and terminal.
In 1948 he married a young lady who he met on a blind date in Charleston. One year after marriage, he was recalled to the Marine Corps and was sent to Camp Lejeune where he became the assistant to the operations planning and training officer at the battalion level. He developed and implemented advanced combat training programs for recruits prior to assignment to combat in Korea. He was promoted to T/Sgt for his superior work, and encouraged to become a regular Marine Officer by his battalion commander, who sent him to leadership school at Cherry Point, N.C. He completed this 90-day school with a combined grade average of academic and field work score of 95.18, the highest in the school’s history, graduating as No. 1 in a class of 29. Lt. general L.E. Woods, commanding General of Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic, flew to the base to award Irvin for this achievement, sending a letter of commendation to the commanding general, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C. Upon returning to Camp Lejeune, Irvin was also given a letter of commendation from the commanding general, 2nd Marine Division and the troops were assembled for the presentation.
Irvin agreed to become a commissioned officer, provided they would find him a billet other than on the front lines. After six months and several near misses, he asked his commanding officer for a release from active duty and returned to work for American Oil Company. For his service in the Marine Corps during WWII and the Korean War, he was awarded the following medals; Presidential Unit Citation awarded to the 1st Marine Division for service on Okinawa, Good Conduct Medal, China Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with Bronze Star, Victory Medal, WWII, Navy Occupation Service Medal with Asia clasp, National Defense Service Medal and Rifle Marksman Badge. During his career with American Oil Company, which later became Amoco Oil Company, Standard Oil Company of Indiana and finally Amoco Corporation, he was promoted 17 times to Management positions with higher responsibility in marketing, operations and real estate. The last 20 years of his career, he served as a management consultant at World Headquarters in Chicago, Ill., reporting to various officers of the company, including the president and chairman.
He reorganized most of the subsidiaries and the general office staff, reducing operating cost substantially, recommending and getting approval to dispose of unprofitable assets, product lines, and company operations. He retired in 1986 and returned to Roanoke, Va., in 1989. He was a long time member of Hidden Valley Country Club and Windsor Hills United Methodist Church. He was active in some eight Methodist Churches throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest States. He served in leadership roles at these churches as financial chairman, chairman of trustees, evangelism, pastor parish and chairman of the board.
He generously supported these churches financially, and continued to give after he left their membership to various capital projects, including two in Bedford County he attended as a child. He made substantial contributions to the construction of Jefferson Center and Shaftman Performance Hall in Roanoke and his name appears on their wall of honor. He was a long time member of American Legion Post No. 3 in Roanoke. He was predeceased by his foster family, Clark and Odessa DeWitt; his birth parents, J. Guy Wood and Ruth E. Wood; his wife of 57 years, Winifred Kelly Wood; his sister, Arline Wood Russell; a niece, Judy Logan and a longtime friend, Jo Montgomery. He is survived by a great nephew, Justin Logan, of Washington State and many cousins in Roanoke and Bedford, Va.
Burial with Military Honors will be at the family plot in Evergreen Burial Park in Roanoke at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. A memorial service will be held at Windsor Hills United Methodist Church at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, with Rev. Branan G. Thompson and Rev. Marianne M. Bird officiating. Memorial donations may be made in lieu of flowers in his name to Windsor Hills United Methodist Church for the Property Reserve Fund. A visitation for family and friends will be today from 4 to 6 p.m. at Oakey’s South Chapel. Online condolences may be made at www.oakeys.com.