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Waldo J. Wood was born in Selvin, Indiana on November 23, 1903. He graduated from high school there, attended Indiana University, and then graduated from Oakland City University. In 1952, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from OCU.
He taught at three different schools in Indiana before coming to Oakland City. He taught from 1926 to 1930 at Oakland City. He then became principal of Oakland City High School in 1930, and remained in that position until 1934. In 1934, he was hired as superintendent. In 1965, East Gibson School Corporation was formed, and he became the first superintendent of East Gibson School Corporation.
Mr. Wood was a member and president of the Indiana Town and City’s Superintendent’s Association. He was also a member of the Indiana State Teacher’s Association, the Classroom Teacher’s Association, and the National Education Association of Superintendents.
I recently was able to contact a few people who either worked under Mr. Wood or were students during his superintendency at EGSC. Mrs. Donna Grubb Heldt, a former student of OCHS, said that he would go out of his way to help students with their studies, working beyond his call of duty. “Mr. Wood was a very neat-looking, quiet, friendly man who was a good leader for the Oakland City School system and highly respected in the community.”
Ms. Florence Eden Morris was the director of orchestra, choirs, and assistant band director from 1957-1986 in the EGSC. She commented “Waldo Wood supported the music activities. He attended every District and State Music Contest. . .When Mr. Wood walked down the hallway, everything became quiet, dignified, and the students showed respect for him. Teachers liked teaching for him, and Wood was an excellent administrator.”
Mr. Larry Harris, a student at the time that Mr. Wood was superintendent, added “Mr. Wood was a soft-spoken man, respected by everyone, both teachers and students. People were sometimes intimidated by him and almost afraid of him. When he walked in the classroom, everyone was very quiet and respectful. He was a kind, good man who did so much for our school system.” He also stated “I am glad that our high school is named after such an honorable man.”
Mr. Charlie Brauser, former basketball coach of seventeen years and physical education and accounting teacher at Wood Memorial for thirty-nine years, dropped by the school for an interview. He shared some pretty interesting stories about Mr. Wood. One of which was when it was lunch time at school. At this particular time teachers sat and ate their lunches at the tables with their students. Mr. Wood didn’t like noise and expected it to be quiet in the lunch room. When he dropped by the cafeteria one day, he noticed it was a little too noisy. Wood walked up to Mr. Brauser and said “I think it needs to be a little more quieter in here. Would you mind telling them at the tables to lower the noise?” Mr. Brauser, being a rookie teacher at the time, felt he should not be the one to tell the older teachers to watch over their students more. Mr. Wood replied “Please tell them to be more quiet and I’ll back you up one-hundred percent.”
Another memory that Brauser can recall is when he was coaching boys’ basketball. The team was gone to an away game and the gym there was small and compact. There were so many people in attendance, it left barely any room for the whole crowd of people to sit. People were standing around everywhere. Mr. Wood showed up to watch the game, he always attended the sporting events, and he couldn’t find a spot to sit. Mr. Brauser noticed this and offered him a seat up on the bench next to the basketball players. Mr. Brauser could tell that Mr. Wood was excited about being able to do that.
Waldo J. Wood passed away in 1967. In September of that year, EGSC voted to officially change the name of Oakland City High School to Waldo J. Wood Memorial High School in his honor. Wood was an excellent teacher, principal, and superintendent. He has definitely left a mark on East Gibson School Corporation and Wood Memorial Junior High and High Schools. Since that time, EGSC has been left in good hands with current superintendent, Dr. H. Michael Brewster.