Friends, family members, and former colleagues will pay tribute to Garland E. Wood — the first African-American to join the elite ranks of Goldman, Sachs & Co. partners — at a memorial Thursday for the former public finance banker.

Mr. Wood died last November at the age of 66 after a long illness. The memorial will take place at St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University in New York City at 3 p.m.

Mr. Wood served as an inspiration and mentor, said African-American investment banker Warren “Bo” Daniels Jr., who joined Goldman’s public finance group in 1989 in New York City early in his career.

“Garland was already a legend in the business and he was like a big brother and mentor to me. He showed me the ropes and I really looked up to him,” said Daniels, now an executive director on Morgan Stanley’s public finance team in Chicago.

Daniels and others described Mr. Wood as one of the pioneers and innovators of financing structures such as advance refundings. He played a significant role in the firm’s early work on single-family housing financings that helped bolster Goldman’s prominence in the public finance field.

Mr. Wood joined the firm after graduating with a master of business administration degree from Columbia University in 1972. He rose through Goldman’s ranks over the next two decades and in 1986 was invited to become a partner. He was the first African-American to be offered that distinction, and among the first on Wall Street. He retired in 1994 but remained an adviser to the firm for several years.

“He was extremely bright, extremely hardworking, and extremely talented,” Daniels said. “But he was also a meritocratic-driven professional. You had to perform, be smart, and work hard. He really taught me this is a merit-driven business.” 

Mr. Wood is survived by his children, Michelle, Cynthia, and Scott Wood; and his mother, Lou Lee Wood.

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