Robert Arthur Woodrick 1932– 2020
Robert “Bob” Woodrick passed away quietly and quickly at his home on Friday morning, October 2. He was 88 years old. By his side was his beloved wife, Aleicia who was his rock for the past 63 years. Bob was preceded in death by his son Rob, whom he loved immensely, his parents Roy and Florence Woodrick, brother Dick Woodrick and sister Peggy Hoefler. At 88, he also was preceded by other family members and many friends and business acquaintances who were there to greet him at the gates of heaven. God is good and we are grateful to have had his magnetic, kind persona with us for so many years.
Bob was Chairman of D&W Food Centers, located in Grand Rapids Michigan, until the sale of the company in 2006. At that time, D&W operated 26 retail units, production and warehouse facilities, and employed approximately 3700 associates. Bob began his career with D&W as a youth working for the company founder, his father Roy Woodrick and except for college and the military service, had served his entire career with D&W.
Throughout his career he served on the following Boards:
- GRCC Foundation Board
- Grand Rapids Urban League
- Heart of West Michigan United Way (1993-1994 serving as Campaign Chairman in 1994)
- Children’s Law Center
- Grocers Baking Co.
- Spartan Stores, Inc.
- Hispanic Center of West Michigan
- Country Fresh, Inc.
- Vice Chair of the Steering Committee on Cultural Diversity – Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce
- Michigan National Bank
- Food Marketing Institute
Bob has been honored to receive several awards recognizing his community service. Below are a sampling of these awards:
- 1999 Business Hall of Fame Junior Achievement of West Michigan
- 1999 Alexis de Tocqueville Award Heart of West Michigan United Way
- 1998 Emeritus Award Aquinas College
- 1998 Distinguished Community Trusteeship Award, Co-recipient Leadership Grand Rapids
- 1997 Slykhouse Business Person of the Year Economic Club of Grand Rapids
- 1995 The Marilyn C. Hunting Award The Advisory Center for Teens
- 1994 Michigan’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award, “Socially Responsible” category Ernst & Young, LLC
- 1994 Hugh Michael Beahan Foundation Award The Hugh Michael Beahan Foundation, St. Andrew’s School
- 1994 Minority Advocate of the Year Award Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce
- 1994 Public Citizen of the Year Award National Association of Social Workers, Grand Rapids Planning Committee
- 1993 Executive Leader Award The National Society of Fundraising Executives, West MI Chapter
- 1990 Project Blueprint Cultural Diversity Award Heart of West Michigan United Way
- 1990 Civic Commitment Award Anti-Defamation League
- 2008 Helen Claytor Civil Rights Award City of Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission
Bob proudly accepted the Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa, in 1996 from Aquinas College, where they cited his work, “more than an inspiration, it is a blueprint for others to follow . . .”
As a family, we are all proud of what our husband, dad, grandfather accomplished. What we are most proud of is the way he lived his life. It was a rich life of passion for “people” – the goodness of all people – and the legacy he leaves his family with, as well as the greater Grand Rapids community. So many were touched and blessed by his presence as a family member, as a friend, a business associate, or mentor. He was a champion of “people”. A champion of racial and social justice. A man that was asking questions we are asking today, back in the 1960’s about the injustice our systems perpetrate towards people of color. Particularly, our black brothers and sisters. He was a man that “walked the talk” and worked hard to bring unity, harmony and understanding about the importance of diversity. He was saddened in his final year by the increasing turmoil and divisiveness he was seeing in the United States between black and white. His greatest wish before death would have been more racial reconciliation and repentance. It is these beliefs and legacy he leaves his family with that have shaped to some extent, all our moral compasses. As a family, we have been richly blessed by this man. By the library he leaves us with his massive book collection, we all have much reading and learning to do to continue the fight for racial and social justice. The work continues . . .
He will be missed and remembered fondly by his loving wife of 63 years, Aleicia Woodrick (Bing), surviving daughter and grandchildren. Georgia Gietzen and her husband who was like a son to him, Jeff Gietzen of Glen Arbor. Their children, Erik Gietzen of Los Angeles and Gillian Gietzen of Traverse City. Rob’s wife, Vonnie Woodrick of Rockford and their children, Chase Woodrick of Grand Rapids, Whitney Rottiers (Woodrick) and her husband Brandon of Ada, and Madison Woodrick of Rockford. Also, nieces, nephews and host of true friends (you know who you are because it was all of you).
Bob’s life work was dedicated to racial harmony and social justice. If you would like to honor his memory and most coveted wish, we know he would appreciate your contribution to the GRCC Foundation in lieu of flowers, through the Woodrick Endowment that helps fund the work of The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Please contribute a check made payable to the GRCC Foundation,
memo: The Bob and Aleicia Woodrick Center.
Remit payment to the following address:
The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
GRCC Woodrick Center, LLC, Room 119
143 Bostwick Avenue, NE
Grand Rapids MI 49503-3295
Due to COVID the family has decided to honor Bob’s life at a later date, when we can gather safely to celebrate. Details will be released in the future.
FOOTNOTE: While sorting through my dad’s things in his desk, I stumbled upon a Stenographer’s Notebook he had kept dating back to the 60’s. I leave you with this gift from my dad:
“In my late twenties I came to the realization, that life is more than just existing, more than just starting and ending a day, more than just breathing. There is something in life that should always be before us, and that is the search for truth.” –Bob Woodrick, 12/25/1960
So sorry for your loss. I remember Bob, Georgia, and Rob from Judo. Bob was my dad’s kata partner when he tested for 3rd Degree Black belt.
Dear Woodrick & Gietzen Family.
We hold so many memories of Bob and appreciate all the many contributions made to the community. Bob had a strong passion for people and always brought an energetic smile to any conversation.
Having been a past member of the D&W team early in career, we’ll always be grateful for the learning, experiences and influence that Bob contributed.
Bob had a fine taste for interesting arts sculptures – which we shared. We’ll always remember Bob surprising us with a sculpture many years back, that remains in our home today.
Our thoughts & prayers with the families.
Michael & Sue Ross
Sorry for you loss .The best job I ever had was working for D&W because of Bobs influence I became a better person he showed me how important it was to get involved in the community .I’m blessed to have been part of the D&W family.
Our prayers are with you
Keith and Kathy Schoenleber