Wesleyan Mourns Sysco Founder, CEO Woodhouse

John Frederick Woodhouse ’53, of Houston, died October 29, 2012. He was 81. A member of Sigma Chi, he received his bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan with high distinction in economics and earned his master’s degree from Harvard Business School. Beginning his career with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Toronto, he later joined Ford Motor Co and served as the treasurer of Cooper Industries.

His affiliation with Sysco Corporation began in 1969, as a founding director and CFO; he ultimately became chairman and CEO. Sysco thrived under his leadership, growing to become a multibillion-dollar food service distributor.
While he additionally served as a director of a few other large corporations, recently Woodhouse had turned his attention to nonprofits and educational institutions, with Wesleyan a great benefactor of his knowledge, expertise, and attention.

As President Roth wrote in tribute to Woodhouse, in a blog entry titled, “Thinking of the Extended Wesleyan Family,” on Nov. 2, “John served as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1976 through 1979 and again from 1980 through 1992. After retiring from the Board, John chaired the Wesleyan Campaign from 1997 through 2005, meeting with countless alumni all over the world to seek support for Wesleyan. Following the Wesleyan Campaign, John was an active member of the Development Committee (2005-2008) and, most recently, the current Campaign Council (2008-present).

“In recognition of his loyal service to Wesleyan, John was honored with the Baldwin Medal in 2005. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1993 during his 40th Reunion and he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Wesleyan in 1997.  He will be deeply missed by his family and friends, and all of us fortunate enough to have worked with him.”

Woodhouse is survived by his wife of 57 years, Marilyn (Lyn) Morrow Woodhouse; son John C. Woodhouse, II ’79 and his wife Deborah Pearson Woodhouse ’79; daughter Marjorie Ann Woodhouse-Purdy and her husband R. Scott Purdy; as well as three grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother Robert W. Woodhouse and his wife Barbara of Blue Hill, Maine.  UPFRONT

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