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Roger C. Wood

1932 - 2013

Roger C. Wood, emeritus professor of Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC Santa Barbara, died peacefully on July 17th in his home in Santa Barbara, surrounded by his family. He was 81 and had endured Lewy-body disease with grace and dignity for two years.

Professor Wood was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on January 17, 1932. He studied applied mathematics and was in the Air Force ROTC at the University of Minnesota, where he met Ann Elizabeth Wilson on a blind double date arranged by a Sigma Chi fraternity brother. They married on August 28, 1954 and took their first of many camping trips together on their cross-country drive to their first home in San Diego, California.

With the end of the Korean War, Roger's ROTC commitment ended and he began his career in analog computation at Ryan Aeronautical Company working on flight simulation and controls for the X13 and other innovative aircraft. During a brief return to Minnesota to complete his masters degree, Roger was drafted and served six months in the US Army. Roger then returned to San Diego and Ryan Aeronautical Company where he wrote his monograph "Principles of Analog Computation" with George Smith. He subsequently moved to Systems Development Corporation in Santa Monica. While continuing to work full time, he studied communications and analog, digital, and hybrid computing technologies at the University of California, Los Angeles, earning his PhD in Electrical Engineering in 1966.

Moving to Santa Barbara in 1965, he joined the then Electrical Engineering Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Roger played an instrumental role in developing the undergraduate engineering curriculum. He was an exceptional teacher, a powerful advocate for students, and an innovative educator, creating some of the first courses in engineering writing and professional ethics. His passion for teaching resulted in numerous honors, including the Mortar Board Professor of the Year Award, the UCSB Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award, and the UCSB Affiliates Professor of the Year Award. Roger continued to serve student educational needs as Associate Dean for Student Affairs until his retirement in 1993, and taught one course a year until 2005.

Roger was an avid sportsman, playing basketball and floor hockey until his early 70s and was known for his scrappy defense and bony elbows. He took great pride in being inducted into the UCSB Intramural Hall of Fame for his longstanding participation with the Jolly Rogers and support of the program. Roger also loved the outdoors, spending several weeks every summer in the mountains of Yosemite. Days were spent with a pipe, a fishing pole, and a Louis L'Amour novel and nights with a guitar, red wine, and a campfire.

Most importantly, Roger was devoted to his wife, partner, and best friend of nearly 59 years and their family. He delighted in her Santa Barbara Choral Society concerts and his children's and grandchildren's sporting and performance events. He had a story or a pun for every occasion, and maintained a genuinely sunny outlook even through adversity. Roger's family would like to express their deepest gratitude to the caregiving team led by Jeremy Bordofsky.

He is pre-deceased by his parents Carl E. and Shirley M. (Chase) Wood and his sister Marcy Kaltenbach. He is survived by his wife, Ann, a well-known retired early-childhood educator, four children, twelve grandchildren, and one great-grandchild (expected): Jenny (and Edward) Hawkes of Santa Maria, CA (Michael, Stuart (and Leah), Erin, Samuel, Patrick, and Andrew), Professor David Wood (and Jane Doughty) of Madison, WI (Alexander and Zachary Wood-Doughty), Dr. John (and Dr. Ruth) Wood of South Pasadena, CA (Lyle, James, and Marion), and James (and Jen) Wood of Mt. Shasta, CA (Levi).

Individuals who would like to share personal remembrances or photos are encouraged to post online at http://www.wrhsb.com/obituaries/Roger-Wood/. In lieu of flowers,
the family requests support for The Roger Wood Endowment at
UCSB; proceeds support undergraduate education
(https://secure.my-websites.org/supporter/donatenow.do?n=Fs@5Cs&dfdbid=1104290).
A memorial service for Roger will be held at the Unitarian
Society of Santa Barbara, 1535 Santa Barbara Street, Santa
Barbara, CA, 93101 (phone 805-965-4583) on August 31st at 2PM.

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Dr. Wood was my graduate advisor and my uncle also took his classes, so Roger taught two generations of engineers in my family.

I will always remember Dr. Wood for his warmth and jovial nature - something that wasn't always easy to come by in Engineering I (now Frank Hall). I remember being stuck on a problem trying to get a robotic arm to cooperate when Dr. Wood came in. I thought I was in trouble for not making any headway, but instead, Roger asked me how my just-completed and first-ever backpacking trip to the Sierras had gone. It turned out Roger was an outdoorsman and he proceeded to regale me with stories of his exploits camping and drinking booze at 12,000 feet.

Somewhere in that conversation, Dr. Wood planted an idea in my head that later allowed me to get that darned robot to move properly. This was the genius of Dr. Wood - he was a genuinely nice guy and a great teacher all in one. I like to think I owe much of my career to him.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
September 7, 2013 at 3:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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