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His family’s official obituary is straightforward and points to a remarkable career. Steven Pierpont Jeffris Wood was born on May 2, 1917 in Forsythe, Montana. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy and attended Princeton University and the University of Chicago. He served his country in World War II as an Officer of the 33rd Armored Division. Following his discharge from the U.S. Army as a major in World War II, Mr. Wood joined Warner Electric Brake and Clutch Company of South Beloit, Illinois. In 1984, he retired as Chairman of the Board from Warner Electric when the company was sold. He retired with his wife, Colette, to their home in Cannes, France where he passed away on September 22, 2005.

But Steve Wood leaves behind something else: A legacy of extraordinary philanthropy. Many conservative organizations were benefactors of his generosity including the Leadership Institute, the Heritage Foundation, Young America’s Foundation, and the Media Research Center. All of these organizations, and others too, have now suffered a great loss.

Steve Wood was as charming as he was generous. A visit with him was always a delight even when, in his final days, the visit had to be short in deference to his deteriorating physical condition. But even then the visitor would still be awed by the grace and gentility of the man with the shocking white hair and heavy black eye glasses, always smiling, always hospitable.

Several years ago I visited with Steve at his home in Cannes to request that he consider a legacy gift for the Media Research Center in his estate. We had lunch in his sunlit dining room, after which I presented him with the voluminous written materials he would want to examine in consideration of my proposal, and then laid out, for some 20 minutes, my pitch. All the while he sat impassively listening, but his body language told me nothing. When I finished, it was the moment of truth. Had I made my case? Still, for several agonizing moments, he said nothing. Finally he turned, slowly, to his assistant, then winked. “Should we tell him?” he asked her impishly. She nodded, and he turned back to me and announced this had already been done.

And indeed it was. After Steve Wood left us I received a call from his daughter, Paula Wood Loud. Steve had left behind a legacy gift of $2.875 million to the Media Research Center.

One grasps at straws attempting to express the appropriate gratitude, knowing it will be insufficient. I can say it was the final act of many acts of kindness from this man, a role model of philanthropy, and as gracious an individual as I have ever met.

-- L. Brent Bozell III, President of the Media Research Center



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