NEW YORK — Arthur Wood, a former chairman and chief executive officer of Sears, Roebuck & Co., died June 18 at his home in Lake Forest, Ill. He was 93.
Wood held the top post at Sears from 1973 to 1978, and sat on the board until 1983. He joined the company in 1946, becoming president in 1968 before earning the title of ceo. Wood guided Sears through a major merchandising shift as the company initially moved away from its focus on the catalogue business, hiring McKinsey & Co. to help shape the retailer’s growth strategy during the Seventies.
Sears was at the height of its success during Wood’s tenure, with 400,000 employees and 900 stores. Wood also served on the boards of Bank of America, Allstate Insurance (which was once a part of Sears), Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust, Illinois Tool Works, Quaker Oats Co., Santa Fe Industries and G.D. Searle.
The executive left a lasting legacy to the company and to his hometown of Chicago via the iconic 110-story Sears Tower, which opened in 1973 and, at the time, was the tallest building in the world. The company kept its headquarters in the building until 1995.
Wood is survived by his son, Arthur Wood Jr.; his daughter, Pauline Wood Egan, and seven grandchildren. His wife, Pauline Palmer Wood, died in 1984.