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Charles E. Wood, 80
Charles Elmer Wood – Landscape Architect and Farmer. It was a sunny, early fall day when C h a r l e s looked over his crop fields and across Pleasant Lake one last time. In the early morning hours on September 14, 2013, with his family at his side, he passed away due to complications from lung disease. He was 80 years old.
Charles was born in Blue Earth, MN, on May 12, 1933, as the eldest son of the late Elmer and Elsie Wood (Arndt). He and his sister Verna grew up together in Holstein, IA. The family later moved to Fairmont, MN, where Charles graduated from Fairmont High School in 1951. He studied architecture and landscape architecture at Iowa State University. He married Ann Wood (Luedtke) on July 17, 1953. The couple began their family while at the university and had three children when he completed his degree in landscape architecture in 1958.
Charles and his family moved to Cambridge, MA, in the fall where he studied landscape architecture and urban planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He worked under the guidance of Hideo Sasaki while at Harvard and graduated with a Master of Landscape Architecture degree in 1959.
He and his young family returned to Minneapolis, MN, where Charles worked as a staff architect at the Minneapolis Planning Commission for the next 3 years. In 1962, Charles decided to step out on his own and founded the office of Charles Wood & Associates, where he quickly built a reputation as a leading landscape architecture and urban planning firm in the upper Midwest. At the same time, his family continued to grow with the arrival of 2 more children. His firm would work on commercial projects throughout the United States. He was also an adjunct professor of landscape architecture at the University of Minnesota in the early 1970’s with former architecture dean, Ralph Rapson.
Charles, Ann and their five children moved to the country in 1972, buying a small farm outside New Prague, MN. Perhaps to challenge himself to the absolute fullest, he decided farming would make an ideal dual profession. The farm rapidly grew to several hundred acres of corn and soybeans while buildings were constructed to raise hogs. Charles worked hard on the farm and at his office throughout the 1970s. In 1976, Charles Wood and Associates worked together with Skidmore, Owings and Merrill out of Chicago on the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia.
Charles continued to expand his farm operation in the 1980s and practiced landscape architecture. He championed a strong belief in the concept of sustainable living in both agriculture and architecture. This core philosophy bridged his two careers and was reflected in his design projects. In the 1990s, Charles collaborated with Leonard Parker Associates to design the Minneapolis Convention Center, the Minnesota Judicial Center in St. Paul, MN, and the U.S. Embassy in Santiago, Chili. He also developed the Macalester College master site plan and completed many projects at the University of Minnesota. Toward the end of his career, he liked to design residences and farm with his son Graham.
Charles is survived by his wife of 60 years, Ann Wood, his 3 sons, Greg, Graham and Chuck, two daughters, Gwen Wood and Gretchen Wessel. He is also survived by 6 grandchildren and his sister Verna Poquette and brotherin- law Norm Poquette.
Memorial services will be held at the Cremation Society of Minnesota, Edina Chapel, on September 27 at noon.