“Twelve years old—my first Church calling,” remembers Elder Robert S. Wood of the Second Quorum of the Seventy. “I was asked to be the music director in Mutual.” But he had to overcome two difficulties: one, he couldn’t sing; and two, he didn’t know anything about music. “The Young Women president took me aside and said, ‘OK, Robert—one, two, three, four,’” his arm sweeping the air in four-four time as he recounts the story. “And so I learned how to do it.”
The youngest of four children, Robert was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho, on 25 December 1936 to Jack and Blanche Wood. After graduating from high school, he began studies at Stanford University, where he met Dixie Leigh Jones. He then served in the French Mission from 1957 to 1959. When Robert returned to complete his degree in history, he and Dixie began dating. He recalls, “Probably the most significant question she asked after we had been dating for a while was when she looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘Robert, are you going to stay active?’” His answer was clear, and they were married in the Idaho Falls Temple on 27 March 1961.
The couple moved to Massachusetts, where he earned both a master’s and doctoral degree in political science from Harvard University. A specialist in international affairs, he has taught at Harvard, Bentley College, and the University of Virginia. Most recently, he has served as the dean of the Center for Naval Warfare Studies at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
The Woods are the parents of four daughters and the grandparents of eight grandchildren. “Two things explain our family,” says Elder Wood. “First, Heavenly Father just sent us four terrific kids. And second, their mother … I would never have been able to do anything that I’ve done professionally or in the Church had I not married the right woman who asked the question, ‘Are you going to stay active?’”
Of the many responsibilities required of a Seventy, Elder Wood adds, “Whatever my weaknesses, there’s one thing I can do with utter confidence—and that is to bear witness of Jesus Christ.”