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Famous: The Extraordinary Career of
David L. Cohen L’81
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RICHARD D. WOOD, JR. L’64 talks about his two families. “I enjoy holding together my great-grandfather’s family,” he says. “He has 130 descendants and each has a financial interest in the company. We get the family together for the annual shareholders meeting, but we also get together at Thanksgiving each year. It’s wonderful to see them come in from around the country.” He takes pride in knowing each of his second and third cousins.
Wawa is another family with deep roots in Delaware County, Pennsylvania and a source of pride for Wood. He is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Wawa, Inc., a chain of convenience stores head-quartered in Wawa, Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia. He is among the descendents of Richard Wood, a Quaker who arrived in Philadelphia from England around 1682.
In describing what he’s enjoyed about transforming the business since joining it in 1970 he talks about this other family. With paternal pride he points out that both the Vice President for Real Estate and the Vice President for Gasoline Procurement started out working in the convenience stores and rose through the ranks to become Wawa executives.
Wawa, Inc. was founded as a dairy by his great-grandfather George Wood 100 years ago. In the years preceding pasteurization Wawa Dairy was known for its advanced and strict sanitary conditions for transporting milk from Wawa as far as the New Jersey coast by train, and then by horse and buggy to residential customers. Throughout the 20 th century Wawa Dairy supplied the Delaware County region, and the expanding Mid-Atlantic territory, with milk and other dairy products. The first Wawa convenience store was opened in 1964. When Wood joined the company as General Counsel in 1970 the family business had $27 million in sales in 80 stores. By comparison, today Wawa is a business with $2.1 billion in sales in 546 convenience stores located in five states.
A 1961 graduate of the University of Virginia with enviable LSAT scores and no job on the horizon Wood took the “path of least resistance,” as he puts it, and entered law school. “I was energized by the thought of going to law school. I would see what was white and what was black in the world. What I discovered, though, was more gray. Things weren’t that clear.”
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