Robert W. Wood, 97, of Swarthmore, a designer and advertising director, died of pneumonia Thursday, Dec. 8, at his home at Kendal at Longwood, the Chester County retirement community where he had lived for 22 years.

Mr. Wood had a long career as a graphic designer, photographer, and artist.

He was vice president and art director at the Al Paul Lefton Co. during the 1960s, but spent most of his time as a freelance designer. He had many clients, but Swarthmore College was the one he most enjoyed working with, his family said.

Mr. Wood did design work for The Inquirer from time to time, as well as other corporate clients.

According to his daughter Barbara Wood Borne, he was challenged to counter the Evening Bulletin's longtime slogan, "In Philadelphia, nearly everybody reads the Bulletin." Mr. Wood came up with "In Philadelphia, nearly everybody heeds The Inquirer," but the slogan didn't catch on, Borne said.

In his 80s, Mr. Wood made the transition from traditional layout and design techniques to the Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator programs on his Macintosh computer.

He created paintings, digital projects, sculptures, greeting cards, jewelry, and posters, many tinged with humor. When he retired to Kendal in 1989, he kept working. Many of his creations hang in its public space.

In one project, he created fake magazine covers for Newsweek and Discover by electronically inserting Kendal residents' pictures. "One of them was my mother on a motorcycle," his daughter said.

Born in Indianapolis, he lived in various places before graduating in 1933 from Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. A map he drew is still on a wall there, according to the headmaster.

He graduated from Oberlin College in 1937 with a bachelor's degree in art history. He illustrated his college yearbook, his daughter said.

In 1940, Mr. Wood married his Oberlin College sweetheart, Mary de Schweinitz. The couple settled in Greenwich Village so Mr. Wood could attend Pratt Institute. He was so inspired by his classes that he became an artist, his daughter said.

The family then settled in Philadelphia and finally Swarthmore, where Mr. Wood established a home office.

Surviving, in addition to his wife and daughter, are daughters Susan and Molly; four grandchildren; a great-grandson; and nieces and nephews. A brother and sister died earlier.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, at Kendal at Longwood, 1109 E. Baltimore Pike, Kennett Square. Mr. Wood donated his body to science.

Memorial contributions may be made to Kendal Employee Appreciation Fund, Kendal-Crosslands Communities, Box 100, Kennett Square, Pa. 19348.

Contact staff writer Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or bcook@phillynews.com.