Ronald Dean Wood, affectionately known as Ron, Ronnie, Chief, Pop, Poppy and, of course, Dad, died Feb. 23, 2017 in Newport Coast, California.
Abiding by Ron's wishes, he has donated his body to medical research and science. The family will have a memorial service at 10 a.m., July 1, in Fairmont at the First Presbyterian Church, 301 Jackson St., and then immediately following, a luncheon will be held for guest at Muriale's restaurant in Fairmont.
He was 78 years old. Ron and his wife, Danielle, had recently moved to California. Ron was born in Worthington, the first-born of two sons of the late Rebecca Alkire Wood and Frazier Orr Wood. The family moved from Worthington to the Bellview neighborhood near Fairmont where Ron's character was shaped by his parents' work ethic and Christian beliefs, forming his love for simplicity, hard work, music and the outdoors.
As a young boy, he attended Highland Methodist Church and Barnes Elementary and Middle School. He developed his love for church music at Highland Methodist, singing in the church choir and later becoming the choir director. He excelled academically, being double promoted in Barnes Elementary School. His drive for excellence took hold as he moved on to Fairmont Senior High School and Fairmont State College.
During high school, Ron became an accomplished trumpet player and leader in the FSHS Band. His dedication to the community and love for the outdoors shine through his accomplishments in the Boy Scouts of America, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout and Order of the Arrow. Upon enrolling at Fairmont State College to major in music, he joined the TBI fraternity, gaining a lifetime of brotherhood and friendships.
He formed his own band, the RW Band, playing the dance band music of the '50s. Later, he played in the well-known Virgil Vingle Band. Ron earned two degrees while at FSC, music education and English. Most importantly, he met, courted, and upon graduation in 1959, married his devoted, loving wife, Danielle Gibbles, Aug. 14, 1959.
Ron and Danielle began their life together moving to Mannington as Ron accepted his first band director position at Mannington High School, working for Marion County Schools. In 1963, Ron was appointed band director at Fairmont Senior High School. Ron's drive to learn and teach continued as he earned a master's in music from West Virginia University, 1965.
Throughout the West Fairmont elementary and junior high schools, which were "feeder" programs for the high school band, Ron continued developing the Fairmont Senior High Band into one of the most outstanding bands, competing in musical contests. He is responsible for organizing a local musical event at East-West Stadium, The Band Spectacular, composed of local and area bands with the highlight of the evening being the West Virginia University Marching Band. The Band Spectacular is now 51 years old and is a traditional event in the marching band community.
Ron was selected as the West Virginia Band Director of the Year and served as president of the West Virginia Music Educators Association, 1967-1969.
His career as a Marion County educator progressed from band director to principal at Barrackville High School, Fairview Middle School and Monongah Middle School. His final leadership position was director of special education, retiring from this position after 44 years as a Marion County educator. His legacy is found in the students, teachers and parents impacted by his discipline, passion, competitiveness, energy and joy.
His Christian upbringing was conveyed to his family through involvement in the local church. Ron was the choir director at Highland Avenue Methodist Church, Diamond Street Methodist Church and First Methodist United Church. He directed the United Mine Workers Band, performing community concerts throughout Marion County. He passed on his love for scouting as a Boy Scout Scoutmaster.
Ron enjoyed the competition of sports, especially watching baseball and basketball. One of his favorite stories was talking about the 1951 Fairmont Little League team finishing third in the Little League World Series. Also, another favorite was reminiscing about Joe Retton leading the Fighting Falcons basketball teams which dominated the WVC and NAIA hoops. More wonderful memories were attending a World Series game with his son and watching a Dodgers game with his grandson.
Ron enjoyed the outdoors. The Tygart River in Fairmont was his "happy place." He grew up on "The River" and passed this wonderful experience on to his family. He could water ski, swim underwater halfway across the river, row a boat, paddle a canoe, but he loved nothing more than to load his family, children and grandchildren on the pontoon boat and take a slow ride up and down the Tygart.
His love for the outdoors was his way of connecting with family: camping trips to Smoke Hole, Sutton Dam, Virginia Beach, hiking at Seneca Rocks and Blackwater Falls, whitewater and fishing on the South Potomac, fishing in Killarney Bay, Canada, rafting the Grand Canyon, snowmobiling in Yellowstone, touring Yosemite and vacationing in Hawaii. His true joy was jumping on his BMW motorcycle, cruising the winding mountain roads of West Virginia, riding solo from West Virginia to California, and enjoying the spectacular Grand Teton. He collected quite a few motorcycles over the years. But, what he really loved was the wind blowing in his face, feeling and smelling God's creation.
Ron's lasting family is his loving wife of 57 years, Danielle Gibbles Wood; four children, Michael Allan Wood and his wife Jennifer Wood, Elizabeth Anne Ganem and her husband Anthony Ganem, Suzanne Wood Linhart, and Todd Allan Wood and his wife Rachel Wood; eight grandchildren, Kerby Margaret Wood, Logan Michael Wood, Gabriella Danielle Ganem, Antonio Michael Ganem, Abigail Mae Linhart, Savannah Nicole Linhart, Audrey Allana Wood and Noah Alexander Wood; his brother, John Willard Wood and his wife Sue Wood; three nephews, Brian Wood and his wife Karen Wood, Chad Wood and his wife Christy Wood, and Eric Wood and his wife Charity Wood.
In lieu of flowers, gifts in memory of Ronald Dean Wood may be directed to support leukemia and throat cancer research at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, P.O. Box 17029, Baltimore, MD 21297-1029, or make a gift online, www.hopkinsmedicine.org.
Published on June 25, 2017