Harold P. Wood, Jr. died peacefully on February 9, 2017, in Lawrence, Kansas. Harold was a long-time resident of Wichita before moving to Lawrence, where he lived in the loving and steadfast care of his daughter, Molly Wood, for the last three years.
Harold was born on January 22, 1928, in Dyersburg, Tennessee. His parents – Harold, Sr. and Dorothy Allen Wood – were native Kansans from Elmdale, Chase County. Harold, Sr. was a county agent, so the family lived in several communities in North Carolina and Tennessee when their youngest child was growing up. Finally, they settled in Knoxville, Tennessee. Harold, Jr. graduated from Central High School, where he also played basketball, and then he earned his degree from the University of Tennessee. In college, he met his sweetheart, Julia Belle Tucker. They married in 1950, a union that lasted 63 years until Julie’s untimely death in 2014.
Soon after Harold and Julie married, the Korean War intervened. Harold served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Two children, Steve and Molly, were born in Tennessee. The family moved to Wichita in 1956 when Harold joined Boeing Aircraft Co. as an engineer. He soon shifted to the personnel department, because of his ability to deal with people and solve problems. Two more children, Winnie and Andy, were born in Wichita.
In 1970, Harold used his experiences and talents to start his own business – Dunhill of Wichita – a personnel service that placed hundreds of engineers and computer specialists in jobs in Wichita and around the country. In 1972, Harold’s brother-in-law, Bill Pitt, formed Dunhill of Topeka, and they worked in partnership for a number of years. Harold retired in 1998.
Harold’s great strength was that he had definite ideas and was not afraid to pursue them. A child of the South, he coached basketball for an all-black church in Wichita for many years, fighting segregation in his own quiet way. Many Little Leaguers remember him fondly as their coach. He and Julie sponsored students from historically black colleges, so they could get summer jobs in Wichita. Harold was enchanted by geodesic domes, so he and Julie built their geodesic dome house on Ridge Road in Wichita. It’s still there today. In retirement, he decided to develop some land in west Wichita, and that project kept him busy for several years.
Harold loved his four children deeply. He taught them how to win graciously, how to lose and not give up, and most importantly, how to follow their own individual paths.
Harold leaves behind his beloved dog, Dudley, who served as the perfect sidekick in his later years. Harold also is survived by his son, Stephen Allen Wood II and his wife, Leslie Hume, of Austin, Texas; daughter Molly Mead Wood and her companion, Gregg D. Smith, of Lawrence; daughter Winifred Wood Noakes and her husband, Brad Noakes, of Wichita; son Andrew Tucker Wood and his wife, Laura Thomas, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina; brother-in-law William Page Pitt of Overland Park, Kansas; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. A memorial service will be held in Elmdale Cemetery in the spring. In lieu of flowers, donations to Douglas County Hospice and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary.