Sherman Woo

Sherman Woo, 76, of Denver, CO, passed away on August 20, 2021. He lived a life of insatiable curiosity, and never stopped contemplating, educating, and growing. He encountered great hardships, tragedies, joys, and successes but always made time to reflect, to seek out truth, art, beauty, and joy. He lived fiercely, and then gently.

He was born to Peter D. Woo and Nellie Chinn, on April 17, 1945 in Seattle, WA. They were highly dedicated to nurturing their first born son’s pursuits, convincing first-class music and art instructors to teach Sherman in exchange for home-cooked meals. At age 11, Sherman’s drawings were exhibited at the Frye Art Museum. By the time he graduated from Cleveland High School in 1963, he had won a high school state championship for debate, became an all-city tennis doubles champion, and was a finalist in a national poetry competition.

He went on to study at the University of Washington and earned a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and English and was a doctoral candidate in English Literature. It was there that he met his lifelong friend John Hill, with whom he explored a love of great literature, philosophy, music, and the life of the mind.

Sherman’s academic career ended when he joined the US Army in 1968. He served with the 1st Air Cavalry Division in Vietnam and was honorably discharged in 1970. He received numerous commendations, including the Vietnam Gallantry Cross Medal With Palm, but he grappled with this experience throughout his life.

Though Sherman and Julie Rosten had known each other growing up, they fell in love over a whirlwind, cross-country road trip and married on December 24, 1971 in Hadley, MA. They had two children, Megan Woo and Rosten Martti Woo. There were family camping trips throughout the Pacific Northwest, vacations to Hawaii and China, elaborate scavenger hunts in Woodland Park, numerous dinner parties and expansive family gatherings of the Woo Clan. Themed Christmases became a ritual and were based on whatever their family were into at the moment: cowboys, Miami Vice, Russia, Charles Dickens, murder mysteries.

Sherman started his career as a computer programmer in 1973 at Pacific NW Bell (later to become US West). In 1993, he transferred to Denver to run the Global Village project. He was a visionary manager and urged his team to “hurry up and fail” so they could find solutions before funding ran out. The Global Village won a Smithsonian Award for the best corporate intranet, and received write-ups in Wired, CIO and Fortune. He retired from US West in 2000 and formed GVlabs with friend and business partner Jon Otsuki.

After retirement, he found a new community amongst his neighbors in downtown Denver, where he renewed his love of cooking and entertaining. Sherman’s Chinese New Year’s feasts were legendary and a coveted invitation. His friendships with fellow English majors Patricia White and Keitha Shoupe resulted in numerous trips to theatres, art galleries, and concerts – with long discussions and laughter afterwards. Patricia and Sherman shared a beloved rescue dog, Brody. It’s been said by many that Brody was the only one who could outsmart Sherman.

He was a committed grandfather to his two granddaughters, Ida and Unni Clark-Woo. When he spent time with them he became filled with the wonder of a child again. He was alive with joy and fresh observations. Every visit with his grandchildren was sure to yield numerous poems and reflections that perfectly captured their moments together.

Sherman was an educator at heart and this was apparent through all stages of his life – beginning with his determination to make his 12-year old sister, Gin, into a “Renaissance person.” This involved the four pillars of: humor (watching & discussing the Steve Allen Show), strategy (bridge playing), music (analysis of Thelonious Monk compositions & violin lessons) and literature (Chekov, Turgenev & Thomas Mann). He created similar programs for his own children, and the children of many others, teaching weekend and summer camps for tennis, Shakespeare, computer programming, and philosophy. He worked on educational programs for whole school districts, and in later years mentored his friend’s son, Brett Otsuki, in programming. He did not teach to see kids excel in a conventional sense – he taught them to question and stay inquisitive.

Curious doesn’t even begin to describe Sherman’s thirst for knowledge. He was interested in everything — from cosmological math and quantum physics, to time and parallel universes, artificial intelligence, gene splicing, the biochemistry of memory, the new science of cause and effect, European novels, poetry, art & perception, music, and even playing the violin with different bow lengths. He enjoyed K-pop girl groups, Bling Empire, and other shows when he wasn’t busy conquering high altitude baking. You could never guess what would become his new obsession. Sherman loved playing bridge and mahjong, and especially enjoyed the weekly zoomed pinochle games with his family. Above all, he loved being intellectually and artistically alive. He deeply embodied Plato’s and Keats’ fundamental insights -beauty and truth matter; beauty is truth and truth, beauty. In the end, he became deeply interested in people and saw the beauty in his friends, dog and family.

He died of a heart attack, at home with his stalwart companion, Brody, by his side. His last day included some of the things he loved most: time spent with friends and cooking one of his favorite meals of coconut curry rice and seabass with tofu and black bean sauce.


He is preceded in death by his parents and his brother Dickson. Sherman is survived by his children Megan Woo and Rosten Woo (Kristiania Clark); his two grandchildren, Ida Clark-Woo and Unni Clark-Woo; his former wife and lifelong friend, Julie Rosten; his siblings Ginlin Woo, Quintin Woo (Judi Christianson) and Guy Woo; his half brothers Wally Woo (Winnie Woo) and Philip Woo (Dan Dan) and many nieces, nephews, and friends.