By Kate Tobiasson, Contributing Writer
Hudson – Throughout his lifetime, Robert Francis “RF” Wood worked to quietly support families who needed help, so that every child in Hudson had the opportunity to join an organized sport and participate in physical activities. He helped found the Athletic Boosters Association in Hudson, worked to fund sports teams with the passing of Title IX, and was often seen on the field, coaching his children. RF Wood was committed to making every youth’s athletic experience fair, enjoyable and one they would never forget.
After his passing, his family worked to continue his legacy through a successful golf tournament and their support of town programs. This past year, they worked to create a philanthropic organization in his name.
“My grandfather donated a lot of his time – our foundation stems from his efforts,” said Jeff Wood, president of the RF Wood Foundation. “He donated to the youth of the community through youth sports. He was one of the founding members of the Hudson Boosters Club. My dad, aunts and uncles have all been coaches of our kids’ athletics teams and been members of the Booster Club.”
According to Wood, the golf tournament raised over $20,000 in July.
“Thanks to the success of this event, we have been able to help children in Hudson by underwriting league fees, travel costs, or equipment for kids who may not be able to otherwise afford to participate,” Wood explained. “We’ve donated to the Boosters, athletic teams, the Boy Scouts and local dance studio. We helped support the group of boys who went to Branson, Missouri to compete in the National Baseball Tournament last year.”
This support is life-changing for children in Hudson, and the family’s long standing support is continuing to affect the availability of programs and inclusive nature of sports programs in the town. Recently, the RF Wood Foundation was approached to support the Hudson High School Outdoor Club.
“I can honestly say that we have never been asked to help buy trout before,” Wood said with a laugh. “This was a first.”
Jonathan LeSage, a teacher at Hudson High School, reached out to the RF Wood Foundation in his capacity as Director of the school’s Outdoor Club. The club, which has experienced rapid growth over the past few years, is focused on adventure fitness, including snowshoeing, archery, hiking, fishing, orienteering, canoeing, and more.
“When I took over four years ago, we had a membership of 12,” LeSage said. “During sign-ups, for the 2018-2019 school year, we had 37 eighth- to 12th-graders interested.”
LeSage reached out to the foundation for their Trout in the Classroom Program to raise 200 trout from eggs, and stock an area of the Assabet River.
“We are so excited to help them out,” Wood said. “This isn’t the traditional sports or activity we have supported in the past, but it is a great and growing club promoting physical activity and being outdoors. These students lucky enough to participate are getting great experiences while learning in an active, outdoor environment.”
From coaching Little League teams to funding the more unusual clubs in town, the Wood family works hard to honor the legacy of RF.