Robert Sparrel WoodNovember 9, 1923 ~ March 29, 2017 (age 93)
Retired Colonel Robert Sparrel Wood died peacefully at home on March 29, 2017, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was born in Woolwine, Virginia, on November 9, 1923, first son of Robert Amos Wood and Myrtle Oney Turner Wood.
Woody was drafted into the Air Army Corps, trained as a pilot, and prepared to go overseas when World War II ended. In 1946, he studied at Virginia Polytechnic Institute on the GI Bill. There he met his future bride, Ella Mae Patton, who was attending nearby Radford State Teachers College. Putting his education on hold in 1947, Woody reenlisted in the Army Air Corps, which officially became the United States Air Force later that year. In 1954, he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in meteorology from the University of Maryland.
Through his service in the USAF, Ella and Woody traveled the world together for nearly three decades. Retiring to Burnsville, North Carolina in 1976, they created even more adventures, hiking the entire Appalachian Trail from 1987 to 1991.
Well loved, especially by children, Woody was known for his good-natured welcoming smile, his corny sense of humor, and his ever-ready willingness to offer a weather forecast. Highlights of Woody’s career include serving in occupied Japan, in post-war Korea, and as a Hurricane Hunter pilot in Bermuda. He was a weather commander in the Philippines during the Vietnam War and completed his career as commander of all USAF weather squadrons in Europe.
Woody is survived by his wife of 69 years, Ella Mae; his daughters Nancy Wood and Janet Wood Taylor; and son Sparrel Wood and wife Karen Frye. Predeceased by his oldest grandson, he is also survived by three granddaughters, two grandsons, and three great-grandchildren. Additionally, Woody is survived by his sister Nancy Wood Droste and her family; and the families of his deceased sister Edith Wood Page and deceased brother David Lee Wood.
Colonel Wood will be buried with full military honors 9:00 AM, August 4, 2017 at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC. A celebration of Woody’s life will be held in Burnsville at a date, time, and location to be announced in the near future.