2013 Hall of Fame Honoree
Brigadier General Preston Wood, USMC, Retired
When Brigadier General Preston Wood retired from the Marine Corps in 1957, he returned to his native Oklahoma a highly decorated veteran with a list of military accomplishments to his name. But according to his stepdaughter, Jan Bartlett, he never forgot his years at OMA. As a matter of fact, she relates that he mentioned them often and that she remembers him being actively involved in trying to keep the school going.
“OMA was a really important part of his life,” says Jan. “When he retired from the military and moved back to the Tulsa area, we were always running into people he knew from OMA.”
Even though the general became a career military man, it was his years of playing polo at OMA that formed the fondest memories for him. An avid horseman and polo player, he lettered in polo during his last year at OMA and remembered when Will Rogers took an interest in OMA’s polo team. After finishing at OMA, Wood went on to get a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at the University of Oklahoma and played on their polo team, as well.
While at OU, Wood participated in the ROTC program and was an honor student, just as he had been at OMA. His OMA and ROTC training served him in good stead as he received his commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps after graduating from OU in 1936. From there, he began a highly successful and illustrious Marine Corps career that would span over two decades and take him far from his birthplace in Poteau, Okla.
Wood served on the Pacific front in WWII in the campaigns of Guadalcanal, New Guinea, New Britain, Pavuvu and Peleliu. Following the war, he served for a time in China. By the time he retired in 1957, he had risen to the rank of brigadier general and had amassed a host of medals and decorations, including three Bronze Stars (one with Combat “V”), the Navy Unit Commendation, the American Defense Service Medal with Base Clasp, the American Area Campaign Medal with one silver star, the World War II Victory Medal, the Navy Occupation Service Medal, the China Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.
Following his military retirement, Wood worked for several companies engaged in the development, manufacture and sale of a patented line of punch card trays, files and data processing equipment. He served as vice president and production manager for Ray Myers Co. of Endicott, NY from 1957 to 1958. He was product manager of data processing accessories with Diebold, Inc. of Canton, Ohio from 1958 to 1961, where he designed several improvements and held a patent for the tabulating card file tray.
He resigned from Diebold in 1961 in order to be eligible for active duty assignment in the Marine Corps during the Lebanon crisis that year was of short duration and his service was not required. He retired fully from his business career at this point and returned to his home state of Oklahoma.
He married Dorothy Irwin, a teacher in the Bixby Public School Systems, in 1967 and became an involved member of the Bixby community. He was a member of the Bixby Masonic Lodge and the Bixby Chamber of Commerce. He was also a member of the First United Methodist Church of Bixby. He passed away at home on May 8, 1974 and was buried with full military honors at Fort Gibson National Cemetery.