Richard William Wood, “Bill” or “Coach,” age seventy-four, of Argyle, Texas passed away May 13, 2021
. The son of a petroleum engineer and a schoolteacher, Bill was born in Smackover, Arkansas and raised in Midland, Texas. Bill was proud to be a Midland High Bulldog, where he lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track each year of high school, served as student council president and the president of the Texas Association of Student Councils, and graduated with the class of 1964. Bill started his tenure as a quarterback for many years in the 7th grade, where his friend and former President George W. Bush was his back-up quarterback. While he was growing up, Bill always wanted to be a trial lawyer- and he never wanted to be anything else except a Coach. His children, grandchildren, players, and teammates knew that “great efforts are always rewarded,” because Bill would reliably remind them.
Bill attended New Mexico Military Institute, where he played football, basketball and baseball. After graduating from NMMI, Bill became a proud Tarheel when he attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1968, joining the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and earning a degree in political science. Bill returned to Texas and graduated from Southern Methodist University School of Law in 1971.
Bill began his law career in Denton, Texas, and ultimately tried over 300 jury trials over nearly 50 years. Bill became board certified in criminal law the first year the State Bar of Texas offered board certification. He defended several death-penalty cases, but after losing his beloved partner, Rusty Duncan, to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, he concentrated his practice exclusively on civil trial law. Bill was board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in personal injury trial law in 1983 and civil trial law in 1978 and brought and defended lawsuits in the state and federal trial courts across Texas, the Texas appellate courts and Texas Supreme Court. Bill was president of the Denton County Bar Association, where he implemented its first formal mentorship program, led that program for many years, served on the board of directors for many years and holding virtually every office—some more than once. The Denton Bar Association honored Bill with its “Bill Wood Most Valuable Player” award in 2016, the only recipient to date. Bill was also honored to be invited to join the American Board of Trial Advocates in 1998, where he served on the Dallas Chapter’s Executive Committee since 2015 and held its highest rank, Diplomate. Bill was inducted as a Fellow in the American Trial College in 2012. Bill was named among the Best Lawyers in America, Texas Super Lawyers, and consistently received the highest ranking by the various groups that honor attorneys. Bill received the “Business Defender Award” in 2007 from the Dallas Business Journal, and the Top 100 Trial Lawyers award many years. Bill relished teaching young lawyers and gave too many speeches to count, addressing the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, the Texas Criminal Trial Advocacy Institute, and he participated in the American Board of Trial Advocates Masters in Trial competition. He was an adjunct professor at Texas Woman’s University, a member of the University of North Texas Dallas Law School Board of Visitors, and a Life Fellow and former committee chair for the Texas Bar Foundation.
Bill was well-known for his love of singing. He had a knack for thinking of a song for every moment and occasion. His early years of singing in a barbershop quartet and church choir enabled him to think of a song for every occasion and typically to cheer others up. Bill would say, “SMILE. You’ll feel better! Just let the corner of your mouth move upward ever so slightly and you have a start on it that won’t stop!” Bill also had a very strong interest and was considered by many of his closest family and friends as an “uncertified,” yet official, arborist. His family and co-workers will also attest that a recitation of his grandmother’s birthday poem was among the highest honor to be received from Bill.
Bill had several nicknames throughout his life, but his favorite was “Coach,” because of the numerous sports teams of his children that he coached, and for all the lawyers he mentored over the years, encouraging them to “make your mistakes on your toes and not on your heels.” However, Bill was more likely to give someone else a nickname. His wife, Terri, was known as “Rita.” He called his oldest daughter Ashley, “Sweet Pea,” his son, Sean, “Sweet Feet” and his youngest daughter Paige, “Mac.”
Preceded in death by his parents Margaret and Buddy Wood and sister Patricia Cobb, Bill is survived by the love of his life and wife of 48 years, Theresa; daughter Ashley Elizabeth Cooley and her husband Derek; son, Sean Toler Wood and his wife Jeyhan; daughter, Paige McClain Wood Dies and her husband Steven; and grandchildren Zooey Bella Elizabeth Cooley (14), Quincy William Arthur Cooley (12), Bailey McClain Wood (8), Harper Patton Wood (5), Billington Lyon Wood Dies (3), and Desi Montana Dies (1). Bill is also survived by his sister, Margaret Ann Cook, and his work family, including his partner of 25 years, Grace Weatherly, and his legal assistant, Melissa Eurich, who worked side-by-side with Bill for 30 years. Bill is also survived by his passionate and clever personality, his love and desire for competition, and his incredible, infectious optimism that will continue to live on through all those that were closest to him.
A Celebration of Life Reception will be held Wednesday, May 26th at 2:00 p.m. at Robson Ranch in Denton, Texas. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Melanoma Research Alliance at give.curemelanoma.org.