On January 27 2021, Prof. Richard D. Woods passed away. You can read a “In Memoriam” about Prof. Woods here.
Since I had the tremendous privilege and pleasure to get to know and work closely with Prof. Woods this last decade while at the University of Michigan and it shaped my life and perspective, I would like to share some thoughts/feelings about him. Prof. Woods has been for me a mentor, an example to follow, and a person to aspire to.
In this last decade of his life, with the exception of some occasional health challenges, and along with making time for his large family, Prof. Woods was very often and later hours in his office. When I asked him why he is at work so long, he responded that he has never worked a day in his life, but had the luxury of being able to be occupied with the things he just loved to do.
He taught a class at the University of Michigan as recently as 2018 and was truly an outstanding educator. I know that because I sat in many of his classes. He would rarely write things down, but would cover the content in a very organized way with minimal notes.
He generously offered his time to me, my colleagues and all students. He had lots of stories to share, but always showed genuine interest in hearing your ideas, thoughts, and stories.
Despite being internationally recognized for his technical work and expertise, he was extremely humble. He showed interest in our own research, guided students, co-wrote papers and was engaged as if this research was the most interesting project ever!
He was continuously involved with special tasks at the Department or at the program level. If you needed help, he would help you. Not because of any benefit, but because he had this unconditional commitment in helping others around him. This may explain why he served in the Marines, as Vice President of North America in ISSMGE, as Department Chair, and in so many other roles.
His loss came as a shock to us. He is someone who, for whatever magic reason, you think will always be there.
Prof. Woods’ influence and impact will propagate and multiply into the future through the students, colleagues and collaborators he inspired, guided and supported.
Below are just a small sample of photos with him. I will miss him dearly and can only try to follow his example.
Prof. Woods and his wife Dixie, in our wedding. This was at the very beginning of my personal relationship with him.
Prof. Woods, with two of our boys, Pavlos, and George.
Prof. Woods and students during one of our bi-annual lab “clean-up” days.
Prof. Woods with students eating pizza following one of our laboratory clean up days.
Conducting MASW outside of GGBrown with students for the new mechanical engineering building. Just one of the many projects/activities we worked on together (2009).
Dinner out following the presentation of the 2008 Richart lecture by Prof. Woods. Also in the photo, Mrs. Richart, Dixie Woods, Don and Marcy Gray, Olena and Roman Hryciw, Adda and myself.
January 2018 Departmental New Year’s Party: Prof. Woods with Radoslaw Michalowski, Roman Woods, Adda Athanasopoulos-Zekkos and myself.