The boy who would grow up to be a renowned world traveler and expert on international affairs was homesick. It was his first extended trip away from home, and as a delegate to the YMCA Centennial Conference he was traveling throughout Europe... but now he was in Geneva, where he didn't know a soul, and was feeling particularly alone. And then he heard a tune. He didn't recognize the words, but the melody was unmistakeable.
"I could not understand the words, but the melody I recognized," he told a reporter from the Church News. I looked up, and I saw this sign on this building and I recognized three words in it -- Jesus Christ and Saints." Robert S. Wood, later to become a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, may have been thousands of miles from family and friends but he was home. He has had the experience many times since... of entering a strange city but being made welcome and feeling at ease with the Saints throughout the world.
Robert S. Wood was born on Christmas Day of 1935 at Idaho Falls, Idaho, the youngest of four children born to John Albert (Jack) and Blanche Wood. He was raised in an LDS environment, baptized as a child and received the Aaronic Priesthood as a youth. He can recall one occasion when following a Saturday matinee movie, he and his father were sitting on a park bench enjoying ice cream sundaes. "He said to me, 'Robert, do you know why I joined the Church?' . . . Then, at that moment, [my father] bore his testimony as to the truthfulness of the gospel."
Recognized early as a gifted student and hard worker, he was selected as a delegate from Idaho to the international YMCA Centennial Conference. This involved traveling from Canada, through the Panama Canal, and throughout Europe. After his return, he enrolled in Stanford University, where he received a Bachelor's Degree in History.
He received much more than a degree at Stanford for it was there that he met the girl who would become his eternal companion. Dixie Leigh Jones was also a student at the school and a courtship ensued. As it began to become more serious, Dixie sat him down one day and asked, "Robert, are you going to stay active?" His answer must have satisfied her for they were wed in the Idaho Falls Temple on March 27, 1961. They would have four daughters and, at the time of his call to the Second Quorum, eight grandchildren.
While researching an honors thesis in fulfillment of a course requirement, Robert came across a book by Dr. Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State under President Richard M. Nixon. Robert became so interested in Doctor Kissinger's writing that following graduation, he applied for and was accepted for graduate work at Harvard University where Doctor Kissinger was teaching. Robert would earn his Masters and his Doctoral Degrees from Harvard.
The master student became a master teacher as a sparkling career ensued including fellowships and endowed professorships at some of the words most renowned institutions of higher learning. Some of his positions include: Teaching Fellow in the Department of Government of Harvard University from 1964 to 1965; Assistant Professor in the Department of Government of Bentley College from 1965 to 1967; Professor at the Woodrow Wilson Department of Government and Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia from 1967 to 1980; Fulbright Visiting Professor of Political Economy and European Community Law at the University of Tilburg and the University of Groningen in The Netherlands in 1971 and 1972; Visiting Professor of Strategy at the U.S. Naval War College from 1977 to 1979; Chairman, Department of Strategy and Policy at the U.S. Naval War College from 1980 to 1983; Director of the Strategic Studies Group under the Chief of Naval Operations from 1983 to 1985 and again in 1988; Dean of the Center for Naval Warfare Studies at U.S. Naval War College from 1983 through 1999; and finally Chester W. Nimitz Chair of National Security and Foreign Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College from 1984-99.
This scintillating career did not relieve him of the promise made to Dixie so many years ago. Robert did indeed remain true and faithful to the covenants he had made. Though one may wonder where he found the time, he served as Bishop, Stake High Councilor, Stake President, Regional Representative of the Twelve and as an Area Authority Seventy at divers times and places.
In April of 1999, Elder Robert S. Wood was called out of the Fifth Quorum of the
Seventy, where he had been serving as an Area Authority Seventy, into full-time service in the Second
Quorum of the Seventy. This pulled him into the ranks of the General Authorities where he continued to
serve until October 2009 when a grateful Church in General Conference assembled released him with a vote