Robert Wood “Woody” Sudbrink
Robert Wood “Woody” Sudbrink died Wednesday, April 11, in Melbourne, Fla., due to complications following a stroke. He was 90.
Woody was born in Taylorville, IL, Nov. 20, 1927, and had just celebrated his milestone birthday at the Naples Ritz Carlton with family and friends.
Woody attended Beardstown High School and then went on to serve in the Army Air Corps. He then graduated in 1950 from the University of Illinois, Urbana, which he paid for by selling insurance. He started Sudbrink Insurance in Beardstown in 1950.
Woody and Margareta Lou (Peggy Lou) Smith of Greenfield married Sept. 6, 1953, and had two children, Craig and Kyle. The marriage of 30 years ended in 1983 when Woody married Marion Robertson. Marion passed away on Nov. 11, 2007. Woody married Barbara Fast on April 11, 2009.
In 1959, he built his first radio station from the ground up that went on the air the same year, WRMS (AM) Beardstown. Over the next 6 years he built 3 more radio stations, WIOK (AM) in Bloomington/Normal, KYND (AM) in Burlington, IA, and WRTH (AM) Wood River, IL. In September of 1968 he sold WRTH.
In the early ‘70s, Woody recognized that the future of radio broadcasting was FM. Using the proceeds from the sale of WRTH, he followed his belief and purchased 7 FM radio stations in major markets including: Miami, Milwaukee, Houston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Baltimore and Atlanta. He operated these stations with a “beautiful music” format, which proved to be very successful. He was known as the “Pioneer of FM Radio” in the United States. He went on to purchase and sell many other media properties including television stations during a 37-year period. He had a passion for the media business and was well-respected in the industry. Woody was always looking for the next opportunity; he thrived on making a deal.
In 1968, the Sudbrink family moved to Ft. Lauderdale, FL, but never lost their connection to Beardstown. At Woody’s 90th birthday party he gifted $300,000 for the water park in his hometown.
Preceding him in death were his sister, Jess Boynton; granddaughter, Taylor LouAnne Sudbrink; father, Roy E. Sudbrink; mother, Alberta Lee Barrett Sudbrink and 2nd wife Marion Robertson.
Woody is survived by son and daughter-in-law, Craig and Leigh Sudbrink of Greensboro, NC; daughter and son-in-law, Kyle and David Hunt of Dallas, TX, 1st wife, Margareta Lou Sudbrink of Dallas, TX and 3rd wife, Barbara Fast Sudbrink of Melbourne, FL; stepson, Richard Fast of Asheville, NC; stepdaughters, Debbie Edlin of Louisville, KY; Carrie Fast of Melbourne, FL.; 4 grandchildren; 4 step-grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren and 2 step-great-grandchildren.
Woody will be interned in the Sudbrink family plot in Walnut Ridge Cemetery in Virginia. A memorial service is being planned for later in the year; service details are not yet finalized.