He directed supplies to troops in World War I, guided one of the world's greatest retailers to its most prosperous era and soon a road bearing his name will shepherd thousands of pupils to the Greenbrier schools.
The late Army Brig. Gen. Robert E. Wood, a former quartermaster general of the Army who in civilian life was president and chairman of Sears, Roebuck and Co., is the namesake of Gen. Woods Parkway, the nearly finished thoroughfare connecting Washington Road at Old Washington Road to Riverwood Parkway.
The general began purchasing land near what is now Riverwood Plantation around 1910 and ultimately owned more than 4,500 acres of farmland in the area, said Riverwood developer Wayne Millar. A blunder in history led to the misspelling of the street's name, which Millar said will be corrected.
"Unfortunately the property was always called the Woods Tract ... but more accurately should have been called the Wood Tract," he said.
Wood sold the tract to Southern Timber Corp. in 1960, according to a Columbia News article from the time. Millar said the land was held by Canal Industries, a timber company which referred to it as the Woods Tract, explaining the misspelling.
Phyllis Means, the director of student learning for Columbia County schools, said her father worked Wood's upper farm of 2,000 acres on what is now Knob Hill Farm and Windmill Plantation.
"My father thought that he was a great person and my sisters and I often heard great stories about him," she said. "He was just a very, very good person. He was certainly good to us."
Means said the general would send her family a cake at Christmas and would visit for lunch when in town.
A native of Kansas and a West Point graduate, Wood married Augustan Mary Butler Hardwick in New York in 1908, according to a 1908 story in The Augusta Chronicle. Mrs. Wood grew up in the neighborhood behind the Partridge Inn, and her family planted many of the majestic oaks in the area, Means said.
Relatives of the family still live in the area today and Wood would be proud of the area's progress, she said.
"I think he would be very pleased at the growth of this county," she said. "He was very interested in agriculture and very interested in progress, too."
Wood died in 1969 at age 90 at his home in Illinois. When Gen. Wood Parkway is completed in April, it will be the second area landmark in his honor.
In the upper vestibule at Augusta Mall between Sears and J.C. Penney stands a life-size bronze relief sculpture of Wood and his wife.
Evans resident Cecil O'Bryan, a former manager of the Sears at Augusta Mall, saved the bronze relief of the Woods when the company moved its Augusta location from 15th Street and Walton Way to the mall. O'Bryan said two men from the company that moved the store's safe labored to move the 800-pound sculpture to the new store.
O'Bryan said he met the general on a few occasions and admired him, describing Wood as "brilliant, with an acumen for merchandising."
Wood likely honed that acumen as the general in charge of supplying troops during the first World War and as a civilian adviser to the Army Air Corps in World War II.
In his tenure with Sears, Wood predicted the economic boom that followed World War II, expanding the company when other retailers shuttered stores. That lead Sears to the title of World's Largest Merchandiser after the war.
"Oh, he was probably one of the most unique people I ever met," O'Bryan said.
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