William Dale “Bill” Wood (June 2, 1889 – November 3, 1968) was a long-time auto dealer in Oakland. He was also on the Oakland Parks Commission, and William D. Wood Park was named for him.

William Wood was born in Dallas, Texas. NB: Some records give the year of his birth as 1888, one as 1886, and one as 1885. He eventually moved to Utah, and served in WWI. Following his army service, he married Margaret Osborne (Wood) (February 15, 1894 – October 13, 1970) on October 16, 1919 in Salt Lake City. They did not have any children. 1 After moving from Utah, the Woods lived mostly in Oakland; in 1949 they moved to Piedmont.

Auto business

By 1925, they had moved from Utah to Oakland, and Bill went to work for the Howard Automobile Company selling Buicks. 2

He switched brands in 1931 and acquired a Ford dealership, Grand Lake Motor Company at 3830 Grand Avenue. He changed the name to Bill Wood Motor Company. 3 After a few years there, he moved the dealership to East 14th (now International) at 30th Avenue. 4 The name Motorland was sometimes used in ads for the associated used car dealership.

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The dealership was successful, and in 1939 had a major expansion. 5 At that point it occupied the entire frontage of the block from 30th Avenue to Derby.

1939 51939 51950 Sanborn excerpt

1947 brought another expansion and a new building on the other side of E14th. 6

1947 61950 Sanborn excerpt

Wood sold the dealership (though not the building) in 1949 to James Bryant, who changed the name to the Bryant Motor Company. Wood said he was retiring from the new car business, but would continue in the used car business. 7 The Motorland business continued with his original co-founder, Hugh Coleman; it's unknown how involved Wood was with the business.

Other interests

Wood was a member of the Aahmes Shrine Temple, and helped sell tickets to the East-West Shrine Game. 8 He was a founding member of the East Oakland Rotary, and a Mason.

Bill Wood was a Republican, and apparently well-connected. In 1947 he was chosen to represent Gov. Earl Warren at a ceremony in Utah. In 1949, he was elected chair of the Alameda County Republican Central Committee. 9

1952 Wood with Richard Nixon, Earl Warren, William F. Knowland

He was on the Oakland Park Commission from 1953 to 1956. 10

Death and Legacy

Bill died in 1968. In his will, he left money to various causes including the Shriner's Hospital and the Ebell Society. He also left $29,736 for capital improvements in the city parks. 10 A few years later when it was decided to create a park in the area of the McKillop Road slide, it was named the William D. Wood Park. Margaret died a few years later in 1970. Their remains are in Chapel of the Chimes.

Links and References

  1. death notice for William D. Wood Oakland Tribune November 7, 1968
  2. New Men on Sales Staff Oakland Tribune August 23, 1925
  3. New Dealer Is Named By Ford Oakland Tribune April 19, 1931
  4. New Dealer For East Oakland Oakland Tribune October 21, 1933
  5. two page spread Oakland Tribune May 28, 1939 (p2)
  6. ad Oakland Tribune March 6, 1947
  7. Men At Work Oakland Post Enquirer April 4, 1949
  8. Ford Dealer To Aid Shrine Game Oakland Tribune November 24, 1940
  9. Bill Wood Honored Oakland Post Enquirer September 29, 1949
  10. City Parks $29,736 Willed Oakland Tribune September 4, 1968