Life story: Family activist remembered for bringing Sky Valley communities together

SULTAN — Dave Wood couldn’t be at the party his friends organized on Sept. 20 to celebrate his new job as a chaplain.

His co-workers from Sky Valley Resource Center and others whose lives he had touched held the party anyway and filmed it, so Wood could watch it later.

He died two days later.

The tireless activist for the families of east Snohomish County lost his battle with cancer at the age of 68.

Not everyone who went to that party at Sultan High School to celebrate Wood’s accomplishments knew how seriously ill he was. He was a private man, said Jennifer Reasoner, a business manager at the center.

Reasoner sensed that Wood would not be coming back.

“That high school commons was full of love,” she said, “It was all Dave. He was there in spirit.”

Wood stepped down as the director of Sky Valley Resource Center earlier this year and was transitioning into a new position as a minister for Volunteers of America Western Washington.

The impact he left of the community is not easily measured.

He led the expansion of the teen after-school program Safe Stop to Gold Bar, helped start a senior center in Sultan and an early-learning program for kids.

One of his favorite projects was the Giving Tree, which provides Christmas presents to local children in need.

“He would spend hours and hours after work buying, sorting and wrapping thousands of gifts,” Reasoner said.

The program is now called the Dave Wood Giving Tree Program.

Meeting the needs of east Snohomish County was a kind of obsession for Wood, said Phil Smith, CEO of Volunteers of America Western Washington.

“I considered him a kindred spirit. His sense of what it meant to be a community leader is one I hold up as an example for others to emulate,” he said.

Sky Valley Resource Center is run by Volunteers of America Western Washington.

Wood brought the community together. Whether it was a bad flood or the tragic death of a teenager, he always led the way to healing.

When the Sultan Boys & Girls Club burned down on Christmas Eve, he immediately offered the resource center for the club to use.

He grew up in Sioux Falls, S.D., and served in the military. He didn’t talk much about his personal life. His focus was on others.

Reasoner remembers a desperate teenager who came to the resource center several years ago. Wood worked with the boy to get him back in school and seek substance abuse treatment. He bought food, clothes and school supplies for him.

“It was just amazing how he took this kid under his wing,” she said. “He thought Dave was his angel.”

Wood’s passion was contagious to those around him.

He was active in the Monroe Rotary Club and served as president of the organization’s foundation, said Neil Watkins, the club president and director of Sky Valley Food Bank.

He had been working to find grants to build a bathroom and concession stand at the Miracle League Field, the ball field for children with disabilities in Monroe.

“Dave was driven to achieve positive things,” Watkins said. “He always treated people with respect and care.”

Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452;

More on the Web

Watch a slideshow Wood’s friends made for him at

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