Chloe Giles Wood

Wood—Chloe Giles Wood, 82, on March 14, 2016, in Talent, Ore. Chloe was born on June 8, 1933, in Las Vegas, Nev., to Ruth Hortense and Albert Odell Giles, who moved frequently during her childhood, buying, improving, and selling farms. Her parents named her Ada Chloe, but as an adult she dropped her first name. Her one-year-old brother, Roger, died she was seven. At 18, she left the farm in Tennessee and moved to Long Beach, Calif., to live with her aunt Ruby. She married Clarence Wood in 1954, just before graduating from University of Redlands.

She taught sixth grade and Head Start, and when she and Clarence moved to San Diego in 1970 for his work, she became preschool director for the Jewish Community Center, educating herself about Judaism as she had not been raised as a Jew. Chloe and Clarence enjoyed growing bromeliads and ferns outside their home, and the whole family loved fishing and camping, frequenting the Walker River on the East Slope of the Sierras.

In 1976, the family moved to an old apricot farm in Sacramento, Calif., where she became active in the Unitarian Universalist Church and began to grow vegetables to ease their financial straits. Her children particularly remember her beautiful tomatoes and peppers. She also taught preschool in Oak Park, Calif., for ten years, working to learn Spanish to communicate with the children’s parents. In 1986 she lived alone for two years in Watsonville, Calif., until Clarence joined her. During these two years, she blossomed, discovering the Mount Madonna Center, which remained an important spiritual home for her until her death. She wrote a grant application to open a kindergarten for this underserved area in an abandoned school that today is a thriving public charter school for preschool to eighth grade.

After retiring in 1997, Chloe and Clarence traveled in an RV for two years and settled in Capitola, Calif., where she discovered both Sacred Dance and Quakers. She attended Santa Cruz (Calif.) Meeting until she moved to the Rogue Valley in Oregon, transferring her membership to South Mountain Meeting in Ashland, Ore., in 2003. South Mountain Meeting was never without beautiful flowers from her garden, and she frequently sold homegrown vegetables and hazelnuts to benefit Christian Peacemakers Team. She shared her love of music with South Mountain Friends, was an active member of the Hospitality Committee, and organized many a delicious potluck and brunch. She enjoyed teaching English as a second language to Spanish-speaking adults, practicing yoga, spending time with her children and grandchildren, sewing, embroidery, nature, and gardening. She loved children’s literature, carefully selecting books for her grandchildren, one of whom described her as “the perfect grandmother,” always loving and eager to help. She shared a beautiful farm in Talent, Ore., with her daughter’s family.

In her last years, she worked tirelessly to make Jackson County GMO-free and was a woman in black in the anti-war movement in the Rogue Valley. In 2013, she married James Crow of Pacifica, Calif., although the marriage did not endure. Her memory and physical health diminished after an operation in 2013, but she remained her sweet, radiant self, regularly participating in the meeting’s intergenerational service project making gift bags for Jackson County’s homeless youth nearly to the end of her life. One of her favorite sayings was “Hands to work, hearts to God.”

Chloe’s older brother, Bill, remained close to her until his death in 2015. She is survived by two children, Susanna Wood and Swarup—birth name Eugene—Wood (Christine); four grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

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