GARLAND E. WOOD
December 29, 1943 – November 15, 2010
Thursday, January 20th, 2011
St Paul’s Chapel
New York City
reception immediately following at Casa Italiana
Garland (“Gar”) E. Wood, an innovator in the municipal bonds market, passed away at his home in Weston, Connecticut on Monday, November 15, after a long illness. He was 66.
Mr. Wood rose through the ranks at Goldman Sachs over a two-decade career, becoming the first black partner at the firm and one of the first in the financial services industry. During his 22 years at the firm, he was renowned as a leader and innovator in public finance. He is widely recognized as being instrumental in leading the firm’s advanced refunding efforts in the late 70s and early 80s.
Garland E. Wood was born in New York on December 29, 1943. He moved with his family to Prairie View Texas in 1948 where his father became a Professor and Director of Public Relations at Prairie View A&M University. Mr. Wood attended public schools in Prairie View, excelling both in academics and athletics.
With sports and academic scholarships to universities across the country, he chose Columbia College in New York City. After graduating with a B.A. in Economics in 1965, he earned an MBA from Columbia University School of Business in 1972. He joined Goldman Sachs that same year.
Mr. Wood distinguished himself early in his career at Goldman by creating strategies that allowed the firm’s clients to convert standing bonds from high to low interest rates, a method he compared to refinancing a home mortgage. His tenure in Municipal Bonds contributed to a period of tremendous growth. When he joined the department, it employed fewer than ten people; by the time he retired, it had grown to ten times that size.
He played a significant role in the firm’s early work financing single family housing and helped to establish Goldman Sachs’ leadership as a top firm in the tax-exempt business. Mr. Wood was also instrumental in leading Goldman Sachs’ infrastructure financing business in the Mariana Islands and Guam.
The firm named Mr. Wood a general partner in 1986, making him the first black professional to reach the top tier of leadership at Goldman Sachs. A celebrated innovator in his field, Mr. Wood was featured in Black Enterprise Magazine in 1992 as among the top 25 Black professionals on Wall Street. He retired from Goldman Sachs in 1994.
In a memo announcing Mr. Wood’s retirement, Goldman Sachs’ senior partner Stephen Friedman noted his strong relationships, exceptional dedication to clients and his broad connections with municipal decision makers throughout the country. For many years following his retirement, Mr. Wood remained an advisor to the firm.
Wood was a long time supporter of the Greater New York Council of the Boy Scouts of America. The Garland E. Wood Foundation has supported numerous causes and charities including scholarships at his alma mater, Columbia College. He also established a scholarship that bears his name at Columbia University School of Business. He served on the Board of Visitors and was a founder of The Black Alumni Council at Columbia College.
His children, Michelle, Cynthia and Scott Wood, all of New York, survive him. Survivors also include his mother, Lou Lee Wood of Prairie View Texas, two brothers, Curtis Wood Jr. of New York City and Craig Wood of Prairie View, Texas. He also is survived by his sisters: Barbara Wood Harrison of Washington D.C., Beth Setrakian and Gina Hector, both of San Francisco, California.