Robert Ernest (Woodie) Wood, 83, the owner and operator of a construction business for 40 years and a former chief of the Glen Echo Volunteer Fire Department, died of cancer Tuesday at Sibley Memorial Hospital. He lived in Bethesda.

Mr. Wood was a native of Grafton, Va., and moved to the Washington area in 1924. About 1940, he established the R.E. Wood Company, a construction firm, in Bethesda. For the next 40 years he specialized in home building.

During World War II, he received a Meritorious Civilain Service Award from the government for his construction work at the Naval Security Station in Washington and at government facilities at Quantico, Va.

He had been a member of the Glen Echo Volunteer Fire Department since 1936 and served as its chief from the late 1960s to 1972. He was a member of the Firemen's Hall of Fame in Washington. He also was a member of Masonic Lodge No. 204 in Bethesda and the Royal Arch Order No. 38 in Kensington.

Survivors include his wife, Florence, of Bethesda; a son, Ernest Robert Wood of Potomac; two daughters, Anne W. Brown and Patricia W. Wilson, both of Bethesda; two brothers, Sidney and Bennie, both of Grafton, and five grandchildren.