Campus supports family in final days

Campus supports family in final days

Within weeks of several community events to aid Sherrie Wood in her fight with cancer, Baldwin City and Baker University lost a mom, wife, colleague and friend.

Sherrie Wood, who worked as the Baker mass media and communication department assistant, died Nov. 25 at the age of 40. She is survived by her husband Kevin and her two children Joshua and Jeremy.

In August, Wood received the rare diagnosis of ocular melanoma that had metastasized to her liver. The diagnosis came when she visited the doctor for her four-year checkup after having been in remission. In the first instance of the disease, Wood had one eye removed due to a cancerous growth too large to be treated with chemotherapy.

In the months since the August diagnosis when Wood discovered the cancer had returned, at least two community events, including a chili supper and benefit concert, were arranged to raise funds to help her family with medical expenses. The chili supper, held on Nov. 15, raised more than $10,000. The event was so populated the food ran out an hour and a half before it was scheduled to end, and more than 600 more people came.

Junior Allyssa King helped coordinate the benefit concert held Nov. 17 in Rice Auditorium, which raised $1,850. King said the event reached the goals the organizers, members of Baker’s Leadership and Diversity class, had intended to meet. Their goals included raising money for the Wood family and raising awareness about the disease and Wood.

“We raised more money than we had thought we would,” King said. “I feel that it was for a good cause. She was a lady the communication department really loved. It was a good experience to help someone out that meant so much to the Baker community.”

Wood’s husband, Kevin Wood, said all of the help was far beyond anything he had expected.

“I’d like to make sure we thank the entire community,” Kevin Wood said. “It was overwhelming the amount of support we’ve received from the community and Baker. Not in my wildest dreams would I have expected anything like that.”

Working in the mass media and communication department, Assistant Professor of Mass Media and Communication Joe Watson said it didn’t take long to see her “jovial, fun” personality.

“She was the glue that kept this department together,” Watson said. “She knew every in and out of every faculty member and made us click like a well-oiled machine. For students, she was like a mom. For faculty, she was like a sister.”

Watson said he observed how important those relationships were to Wood within her job.

“She absolutely loved being around students, to pick up on their enjoyment and help them with their problems,” Watson said. “She was very supportive of student effort.”

Senior Kaci Benjamin worked with Wood in a work-study position.

“If you gave her one simple thing she took it two steps further,” Benjamin said. “She made everyone happy. You could just go in and talk to her. She gave the best advice. You could talk to her about anything, and when you came out of the conversation you’d just feel better.”

Kevin Wood said even though his wife hadn’t worked at Baker very long, it was an enjoyable experience for her.

“She sure liked all the people she worked with,” he said. “She loved the students. She always thought of herself as a young person. She always felt that she could relate to them.”

Kevin Wood said he appreciates all the community has done for him and his family.

“If they want to keep us in their thoughts and prayers that would be fine,” he said. “They’ve already given us so much. I think everybody knows what a special lady she was.”