Bobby Dean Wood, beloved husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle, cousin, and friend, was called from labor to peaceful rest in the arms of his Savior and Lord on June 27, 2024, at his farm in Battlefield, MO. 

Born on December 31, 1941, in Hartville, MO, Bobby was the cherished son of Bertha Ann (Crider) and Robert Wood, Jr., and the youngest brother to Herbert Ernest Wood and Loma Jean Wood Lawler - all of which preceded him in death.

Bobby Dean graduated from Hartville High School in 1959, where he was voted “Most Witty” by his peers, a characteristic he continued to perfect and display throughout his life—often with just a look from his laughing eyes. 

On October 1, 1960, Bobby Dean married Phyllis Ruth (Wright), a union that brought immense joy and was blessed with three children.

Early in Bobby Dean and Ruth’s marriage, Bobby worked at Foremost Dairy in Springfield, MO, while attending Southwest Missouri State University and the University of Missouri, Columbia to complete prerequisites for mortuary school. Bobby and Ruth then moved to Dallas, Texas, where Bobby furthered his education and graduated from Gupton-Jones Dallas Institute of Mortuary Science in Dallas, Texas, in 1964.

Bobby and Ruth, along with their newborn, Herb, then moved to Aurora, MO where Bobby completed his embalming internship at Oscar Marsh Funeral Home. Shortly thereafter, the family moved back to Hartville, MO where Bobby began working at Bergman-Miller Funeral Home.

Bobby and Ruth remodeled a historical Victorian home in his hometown of Hartville, MO, into Wood Funeral Home in 1974. Bobby and Ruth raised their three children there and taught them, by example, to respectfully care for grieving families and the public. The family compassionately and selflessly served many families in Hartville, MO, and the surrounding communities in their times of need and loss until 1989.  

During the 1960s and 70s, many funeral facilities utilized their hearses as ambulances to transport patients to local hospitals. Bobby Dean, with his heavy foot on the pedal, saved many lives in this capacity. Always a wonderful storyteller, he later recounted numerous incredible stories from these experiences. 

In 1989, Bobby Dean moved his family to Springfield, MO, where they partnered with Dr. and Mrs. Glenn DeGraffenreid and their family to establish Walnut Lawn Funeral Home. After a few years of operation, Bobby and Ruth became the sole owners of the funeral home. They wanted and achieved a funeral home with Walnut Lawn that excelled in customer service with “Tender Moments – Tender Care.”

Bobby made a profession of faith at the age of 30 and followed his Lord in Believer's baptism in front of his family and friends at First Baptist Church in Hartville, MO. His faith was a cornerstone of his life, guiding him in his actions and relationships.

Throughout over 60 years in the funeral service industry, Bobby Dean was known as one of the best embalmers in the area. He amazed many a funeral director and embalmer with his techniques. Once Bobby Dean was unable to actually do the embalming process himself due to physical constraints, Bobby Dean would pull up a stool and sit and coach young embalmers, providing key pointers so that his expertise would continue in them.
He was known as a forward-thinking business person, with a vision for the future.  Bobby Dean could often be found making notes and doing calculations on any type of paper or paper towel of his thoughts and ideas.  He passed this passion, generation of ideas, and business sense onto his children and grandchildren.  

With the demands of being on call 24/7, 365 days a year, Bobby Dean always managed somehow to spend precious, quality time with his family.  Bobby and Ruth enjoyed traveling to Israel, Jerusalem, Alaska, New York City, and Hawaii, as well as yearly to Tennessee for the National Walking Horse Celebration. He took his young family on a trip to Montana and Canada, visiting along the way, Yellowstone National Park and the Badlands. Bobby and Ruth celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by taking their adult children and their spouses and grandchildren to Canada for a fishing trip.  A bucket list trip to Washington, DC, by way of the Amtrak train, was taken with his daughter and two of his grandsons.  Bobby’s family enjoyed celebrating birthdays and each other’s company each fall and spring for many years at nearby trout resorts, renting cabins and seeing who could catch the largest fish.  He attended and supported his children and grandchildren’s activities including his grandsons’ wrestling tournaments, band performances, and football games.  It always brought a smile to his face and joy to his heart to watch and hold his young great-grandsons.  Bobby Dean will definitely be remembered as a family man, the patriarch of the Wood family.

An avid horseman throughout his life, Bobby began riding bareback and barefoot when he was just old enough to “Bobby Wood” a way onto the back of his mare, Blaze. He was a natural at starting colts, known for his quiet, calm, and consistent demeanor. As an adult, Bobby spent many hours at the family farm in Hartville, MO, mentoring and teaching his three children about life and how to care for livestock and train their Tennessee Walking Horses. When Bobby moved to Springfield, he continued this legacy of mentoring, coaching, and passing along his love of horses especially to one of his grandsons, who made his Papa proud by winning several world championship honors.  Bobby often watched horse shows and his grandson show by a livestream broadcast from Tennessee when unable to attend in person.  The family bonded over many hours of traveling to and from local horse shows as well as those in other states.

Bobby cherished the times spent gigging for suckers with family and friends, relishing the camaraderie and adventure along the riverbank. After a successful night of gigging, the outdoorsmen would cook the freshly caught fish by the water. The group expertly battered the suckers with cornmeal and salt and then served them with a loaf of “cheap white bread,” sliced white onions, taters, and hushpuppies topped with strawberry preserves. These simple yet delicious meals enjoyed in the company of loved ones, were among Bobby's most treasured moments.

Bobby was a man who found solace and joy in working the soil, planting his garden with heirloom seeds passed down through the family. Often caught up in his work at the funeral home and with his family’s activities, especially during the scorching summer months, he would sometimes (always) find his garden overrun by weeds. Despite the challenges, Bobby's perseverance paid off, and he managed to salvage some of the finest vegetables around. His ability to nurture and cultivate amidst adversity spoke volumes about his resilience and deep connection to the land he loved.

Bobby was not only a skilled cook but also an enthusiastic experimenter, always eager to try new recipes and kitchen gadgets. Ruth often shook her head fondly when she discovered yet another new appliance in Bobby's culinary arsenal. Even in his final days, Bobby's passion for cooking remained strong as he requested roasted peanuts and provided precise instructions for their perfect preparation in the oven.

Processing and curing hogs was one of Bobby’s many hidden talents. He excelled in this craft, and the results of his skill and dedication in this task especially will be sorely missed.  

Bobby Dean and Ruth, along with their family, owned and operated Woods Fork Restaurant in Hartville, MO, from 1985 to 1989. Bobby enjoyed drinking coffee with the locals each morning, discussing life and sharing laughs. He took pride in serving the community delicious meals, many of which featured his famous homemade onion rings and crispy-battered fried chicken.

Throughout his 82 years, Bobby Dean dedicated himself to serving in fraternal, civic, and community organizations. He held a proud membership with the Missouri Funeral Directors Association for over 50 years. He actively participated in a wide array of associations, including the Masons, Shriners, Springfield Rotary Club, Hartville Lions Club, Springfield Southeast Lions Club, Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitor’s Association, Missouri Funeral Trust (President), and the Paul Harris Fellow Benevolent Organization. Bobby's commitment extended beyond these roles; he played integral parts in visionary committees for the inaugural Hartville Fall Festival, and the Hartville Housing Authority, and was influential in re-establishing the Hartville Saddle Club where he had shown as a child. Additionally, Bobby shared his faith generously by teaching Sunday school and was a member of Battlefield First Baptist Church, and also attended Sac River Cowboy Church. His unwavering dedication and leadership within these organizations left a lasting impact on his community and all who were fortunate to know him.

Many have said Bobby was the kindest and gentlest man they ever knew, a sentiment echoed by his family. A man of few words, he taught his children and grandchildren by example to love the Lord, work hard, love and serve others, and live peacefully and without strife as much as possible.

Bobby's legacy of kindness, strength, and unwavering love for God, his family, his community, and all of God’s creation and creatures will be remembered by those who knew him. His gentle spirit and steadfast guidance have left an indelible mark on the hearts of his family and friends.

Bobby is survived by his loving wife, Phyllis Ruth (Wright) Wood, and their children: Herbert Dean (Cathy) Wood of Charity, MO; Ruth Ann (Richard) Wood Humiston Turner of Republic, MO; and Malinda Irene (Lendall) Wood Beushausen of Lebanon, MO. Bobby was a cherished Papa to Austin Cole (Ciara) Beushausen, Logan Levi (Jessy) Beushausen, Gabriel Dean Humiston, Michael James Humiston, and Eli William Stigall. He was also a proud great-grandfather, affectionately called Pa by his great-grandsons, Ryder Kade and Myles Bowden Beushausen. Bobby Dean is additionally survived by nieces and nephews who held a special place in his heart. 

A service to celebrate Bobby's life will be held on Tuesday, July 2, 2024, at 1:00 PM at Walnut Lawn Funeral Home, 2001 W. Walnut Lawn St., in Springfield, MO, where family and friends will gather to honor his memory and the profound impact he had on their lives.  A graveside service will be held at Little Creek Cemetery, Wright County, MO, at 3:30 PM following the funeral service.  Visitation will be held on Monday, July 1, 2024, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM at Walnut Lawn Funeral Home, in Springfield, MO.  

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to The Gideons International in Bobby’s memory.

Bobby Dean's presence will be deeply missed, but his gentle, steadfast, loving, and quick-witted spirit will live on in the hearts of those who loved him and in the legacy of strength and kindness he instilled in his family.