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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Dr. Truman Wood dies Dec. 21

Longtime faculty member dies December 21


Free Press photo by John CrossTruman and Reta Wood.
Truman and Reta Wood

Dr. Truman Wood, a longtime faculty member at Minnesota State Mankato who continued to actively support young scholars in his retirement, died Monday, Dec. 21 in Mankato at age 77.

He had been hospitalized shortly after Thanksgiving with complications from diabetes, which he had for 62 years. A memorial service will be held at Centenary United Methodist Church in Mankato on Tuesday, Jan. 5 at 11 a.m., with visitation at the church one hour before the service. Burial will be in Glenwood Cemetery, Mankato.

Professor Wood, a native of Delavan, Minn., taught political science at Minnesota State Mankato from 1961 until his retirement in 1991. He held a bachelor’s degree from then-Mankato State Teachers College and a master’s and doctorate from the University of Iowa.

In 1992 Truman and his wife, Reta Hoover Wood, established the Wood Community Leadership Scholarship for undergraduate majors in political science. Reta Wood taught for 25 years at Kennedy Elementary School and continues to reside in Mankato.

The annual Wood Scholarship recognizes community involvement, academic excellence and leadership and has been awarded to more than 30 students. It is supported through an endowment fund created by Truman and Reta Wood to which contributions have been added by several hundred donors.

The fund is now worth more than a quarter of a million dollars, and the program is overseen by an advisory board composed of former Wood Scholars and former students of Truman Wood.

Dr. Wood was active in Centenary United Methodist Church, serving as a lay speaker throughout southern Minnesota for more than 30 years. He was a member of the Mankato Planning Commission for 22 years, as well as many other community and university organizations.

In his retirement he edited a weekly e-newsletter on politics called Woodchips, which always began with a quote from George Orwell: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” The last issue he edited was Nov. 26, in the ninth year of Woodchips’ publication.

“My father valued few things more than his association with the university,” said Truman’s son, Jeff Wood. During his father’s last days in the hospital, Jeff sang the university’s fight song to Truman, reliving the cold Saturdays they spent together in Blakeslee Stadium, wrapped in blankets and cheering on Minnesota State’s football team.

“Dr. Wood connected the discipline of political science to the community through his commitment to service,” said Dr. Richard Davenport, president of Minnesota State Mankato. “The service that he and Reta have given to us not only made our community better, it nurtured future community leaders through the Wood Scholarship. We will sorely miss his vibrancy, his optimism and his deep desire to give back.”




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