Forrest Wood, the founder of Ranger Boats who is often hailed as the founder of the modern bass boat, died Jan. 24. He was 87. Wood is survived by his wife Nina, and four daughters.
Wood was born June 9, 1932, in Flippin, to Ervin and Beulah Wood. Wood saw the need for a better boat during his ownership of a guide service on the rivers and lakes in the Arkansas Ozarks.
He would found Ranger Boats in 1968 in Flippin, building six boats in the first year in what is now the Flippin city hall. The business would eventually become a multi-million dollar business employing hundreds in the region. Ranger was the official boat used in the Bassmaster Classic for 30 years. Wood sold the business in 1987, and, after several ownership changes, the company is now owned by Springfield, Mo.-based Bass Pro Shops.
“It was my honor to know Forrest Wood, and his passing is a deeply sad moment for our entire state. Forrest embodied the best of Arkansas,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement. “He was an entrepreneur who brought thousands of jobs to Northern Arkansas with his founding of Ranger Boats. His business accomplishments have been recognized in the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame, and his contributions to the world of fishing and recreation have made Arkansas a destination point for fishermen from all over the world. He loved Arkansas, and Arkansas loved Forrest Wood. Susan and I express our condolences and prayers for Nina and the entire Wood family.”
Wood is a member of the Professional Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, the International Boating Hall of Fame, National Marine Manufacturers Hall of Fame, Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame, Arkansas Game and Fish Hall of Fame, Arkansas Walk of Fame, He also is a 2006 Arkansas Business Hall of Fame inductee.
The national FLW Fishing Tournament, now sponsored by Walmart, was in 1996 named after Wood.
“Forrest Wood’s legacy and impact across every facet of our sport is indisputable,” said Kathy Fennel, FLW executive vice president and general manager. “FLW is fortunate and honored to call him a friend and the namesake of our company. We join the rest of the fishing world in mourning the passing of this legendary man. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Nina and the entire Wood family during this time.”