Shreveport, LA – James William Wood passed away on Tuesday, March 22, 2016 at the age of 91 surrounded by three generations of loved ones. Jim was born in Ridgway, Illinois, on September 2, 1924 to Orville and Edith Bruner Wood. He grew up in Harrisburg and Springfield, Illinois, until he enlisted in the Marines in January, 1943. Jim became a member of the U.S. Marine Corps 3rd Raider Battalion-the first Special Forces of the modern era-and served as a rifle squad leader on Bougainville, Guam, Emirau, and Okinawa. He landed on the shore of Tokyo Bay and observed Japan’s surrender on September 2, 1945 – his 21st birthday.
After the war, Jim returned to the States and entered The University of Illinois where he majored in Physical Education and was reunited with Rosie Thomas, the love of his life. They were married on June 20, 1946. After graduation, they moved to Crossville, Illinois, where Jim became the high school basketball coach. At Crossville High he worked with two men who would become very important in his life-school principals, Bill Sanders, and Jim Hanks. These two men became leaders in the growing State Farm Insurance Companies and recruited Jim to take State Farm Insurance to the South. First he was a successful agent in Jackson, Mississippi. Later he became the District Manager in Shreveport and hired the first State Farm Agents in the North Louisiana area. He retired after a 37-year career of helping young agents become successful business men and women.
Jim was active in the community, serving as the President of the Shreveport Association of Life Underwriters, President of the Broadmoor Kiwanis Club, Chairman of the Board of Broadmoor United Methodist Church, and as President of Shreveport Green. All of his life, Jim was an avid golfer and tennis player. He spent many pleasant hours at East Ridge Country Club, where he played golf until he was 88. He also spent many hours trying to tame 80 acres near Cotton Valley that he dubbed “The Land.” Thinking that hard work was good for everyone, he would invite friends to join him and then hand them a chainsaw, an ax, and a shovel! Jim, who was called “The Great One” by his friends, truly epitomized what it meant to be a member of “The Greatest Generation.”
Jim was preceded in death by his parents and his brother Robert M. Wood. He is survived by his loving wife of 69 years, Elizabeth Rosella “Rosie” Wood, and three children: daughter, Donna Jean Wood Snell and her husband L.L. “Pete” Snell; son James Robert “Jim” Wood; and son Thomas William “Tom” Wood and his wife Cynthia George Wood. He is also survived by three grandchildren: Jeff Snell and his wife Sheri Thompson, Stafford Wood, and Nik Snell and his wife Anne Marie Buchta as well as two great-grandchildren: Quinn Kendall and Steven Kendall.
Jim loved westerns, big band music, and anytime his children’s voices were lifted up in song. Join us as we celebrate his life at a Memorial Service Friday, March 25, at 10:00 a.m. at Broadmoor United Methodist Church. The Reverends Conrad Edwards and Greg Davis will preside. Honorary pallbearers will be Phil Anderson, Bob Brown, Jim Collier, Gerald Norder, Val Tucker, and Jack Zahm. Visitation will be held Thursday, March 24, from 5-7 p.m. at Rose-Neath Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, Jim would appreciate a donation to Shreveport Green at 3625 Southern Ave., Shreveport, LA 71104 or Broadmoor United Methodist Church at 3715 Youree Drive, Shreveport, LA 71105.