Bob Woodrick, W. MI leader in addressing racism, dies

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Bob Woodrick, a leader in addressing racism and supporting education in West Michigan, died from a heart attack Friday at 88, loved ones told News 8.

Grand Rapids Community College’s Diversity Learning Center was renamed in 2006 after Woodrick and his wife, Aleicia, after they supported the program’s improvement.

Woodrick’s daughter, Georgia Gietzen, said he saw color but found no gray area when it came to accepting people for their differences.

“He accepted and loved all people,” Geitzen said.

Geitzen said her dad made his money as the owner, president and CEO of his family-owned businesses, D&W Food Centers.

“His life’s work was supermarkets,” Geitzen said.

Woodrick’s life’s mission was promoting equality. He helped start the Woodrick Institute for the Study of Racism and Diversity at Aquinas College and helped establish the Institute for Healing Racism. That’s now a partnership between Grand Rapids Community College and the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce.

“For me, especially as a person of color, it’s impact when a nonminority stops everything, raises his hand and says, ‘This is important. We need to invest in how we address racism,'” said Dante Villarreal, vice president of Business and Talent Development at the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce.

 It’s that investment educators said continues today.

“Bob Woodrick understood West Michigan cannot 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. 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.”

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