GRAND RAPIDS, MI — A man who dedicated much of his life in West Michigan to combating what he called “the disease of racism” has died.
Bob Woodrick died Friday, Oct. 2 at the age of 88, according to a news release from Grand Rapids Community College. He leaves behind a legacy of promoting community conversations and education surrounding the topic of racism, the release states.
GRCC’s Diversity Learning Center, founded in 2006, was renamed the Bob and Aleicia Woodrick Center for Equity and Inclusion in 2016 to celebrate the couple’s work both on and off campus.
As a professional, Woodrick began his career in the family business, D&W Food Centers in Grand Rapids, and worked there his entire life, leaving only for college and the military, the release states.
Woodrick, according to a 1993 Grand Rapids Press story, started working for his father at the age of 14 — just three years after the first D&W was opened in 1943 at the corner of Franklin Avenue and Chicago Drive SW in Grandville.
Over the course of his career, he served as president and CEO, as well as chairman of the board.
“Bob Woodrick understood West Michigan cannot not truly be successful until everyone has an opportunity to thrive,” GRCC President Bill Pink said in a statement.
“For decades, he opened eyes, changed minds and challenged people to take a look at themselves and their communities,” Pink said in the statement. “The world we are living in today shows us we have more work to do. Bob’s leadership helped ensure GRCC is a place where that work can and will continue.”
Through the Woodrick Center, GRCC and surrounding communities are provided with the opportunity to experience cultural competence by way of community partnerships, academic colloquium, youth conferences, student engagement initiatives