The San Saba High School Alumni Association and the San Saba Rotary Club are proud to announce that Leo Wood is the 2010 recipient of the Wall of Fame Award.
Willis Leo Wood, native of San Saba and San Saba High School Class of 1958, started his career of public service with the City of San Saba in July of 1962 and has continued that career to this day. Along the way, he has served as the City Manager for the cities of Rosebud, Texas and Georgetown, Texas. He has also worked in various capacities for the City of Austin, Texas. He currently manages his own business, Leo Wood & Associates and serves as the Business Development director for the Independent Bank of Georgetown and for Baker-Aiken Engineering of Round Rock.
Over the years, Leo has received numerous honors, awards, and achievements. He served as the Mayor of the City of Georgetown from 1992 to 1999. He has served and continues to serve in a volunteer capacity for several organizations and civic groups. He has also taught courses at Texas A&M University, Lamar University, and Temple Junior College and has lectured at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and Concordia College.
Leo married Vivian Homesley of Llano in 1961. Vivian currently serves as the Treasurer of Williamson County. They have three sons and daughters-in-law and two grandchildren.
Leo Wood’s first deed as Georgetown city manager was to secure funds for a new city hall.
Nearly 50 years ago, a young Leo Wood worked busting rock at Texas Crushed Stone Company near Georgetown. The hum of propellers above signaled the approach of a small company plane loaded with metal quarrying materials called "feathers and wedges." Seeing that he was going to overshoot the runway, the pilot aborted his descent and pulled the plane up to attempt a second pass. Too late. As Wood and other workers watched, the plane’s rear wheel caught on a gondola car. The craft tumbled tail over nose and burst into flames.
"Fortunately we weren’t more than a couple hundred yards from where they hit," Wood said. Wood and other workers ran over to the plane and dragged out the three injured passengers. "They would have burned in the plane if we hadn’t of been there," he said.
And that’s how San Gabriel Park got an Olympic-sized swimming hole.
During his 16-plus years as Georgetown city manager and three terms as mayor, Wood usually relied on his talent for writing grant proposals to secure funding for things like sewage treatment plants, parks and urban renewal projects. He claims responsibility for downtown programs in Georgetown and Taylor, a park in Hutto and the sewer in Liberty Hill, plus many more improvements throughout Central Texas.
But when he found himself $45,000 short of the $750,000 needed to build the San Gabriel Pool, Wood didn’t hesitate to call in a favor from E.B. Snead, owner of Texas Crushed Stone and a survivor of that plane crash years before.
"I shall never forget when he pulled out that ol’ desk drawer, took the checkbook out and wrote a check to the city of Georgetown for $45,000," Wood said. "He said, there, that’ll get you through this."
Wood showed a talent for raising money, by hook or crook, from the onset of his governmental career, which began in 1962 when a 20-something Wood became the utility services manager for his hometown of San Saba. He landed a grant for a wastewater treatment plant at almost no cost to the city.
In 1964, Wood took a similar position in Rosebud. He became city manager two years later. In 1969, Wood, who was still under 30 years old, beat out more than 50 other applicants to become city manager of Georgetown, when the population of the town was about 5,600.
The first thing he did was to secure a grant to build a brand new city hall and council chambers. When he relinquished his position in 1985, Georgetown claimed more than 16,000 residents, plus 8,000 more people outside the city limits but still within Wood’s jurisdiction.
During his tenure, the city went from being in debt to having a reserve balance of $5 million, without significant bonds or tax increases. Accordingly, Wood disagrees with his dismissal as city manager in 1985, shortly after the city council was shaken up by the transition to single-member district elections instead of at-large.
Seven years after losing his job with the city, Wood became mayor, serving three terms, until 1999. As proof that good things happen to a town when Wood is around, the Sun City development came to Georgetown while he was mayor.
"That was the biggest plum I ever picked in my political life," he said.
Wood worked for the city of Austin from 1985 to 1998. He was a board member of Georgetown’s Snead Institute, looking into fuel cell technology and alternative fuels, from 1999 to 2005.
He has also worked for area banks, currently Round Rock’s Independent Bank, has his own consulting company and is business manager for Baker-Aicklen & Associates, Inc., in Georgetown.