Edward Watson Wood Jr.

WoodEdward Watson Wood Jr., 96, on April 12, 2021, peacefully at home in Denver, Colo. Ed was born on December 12, 1924, the only child of Edward Watson Wood and Gertrude Green, in Florence, Ala. They moved to Chicago, Ill., in 1933. Ed inherited the tradition of the “citizen soldier” from his family who settled in the United States in the seventeenth century. At the age of 19, Ed left college to volunteer for infantry duty in World War II. During the liberation of France in September 1944, he suffered multiple severe wounds. Ed received a Purple Heart for his service.

After recovering from his physical wounds, Ed enrolled in the University of Chicago where he followed the Great Books course, a catalyst for the writing career that he would pursue for the remainder of his life. He met and married Alma Ward during this time. After their marriage, they spent a year in Mexico engaged in service for American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). Upon returning to the United States, they settled in Connecticut, where their three children were born. To support his growing family, Ed became a city planner, obtaining degrees from the University of Chicago, Stanford University, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The family settled in Baltimore, Md., where Ed was a city planner. He shared his passion for the outdoors with his children.

Ed and Alma joined the Religious Society of Friends and raised their children in this faith. Ed remained a Quaker for the rest of his life, devoting himself to pursuit of the Quaker peace testimony.

Ed and Alma divorced in 1973. After the divorce, Ed settled on Cape Cod, where he became a member of Yarmouth (Mass.) Meeting. After his youngest daughter graduated from college, Ed began writing full time to make sense of what had happened to him as a 19-year-old in combat. Forty years later, in 1984, Ed revisited the site of his wounding. That experience helped free him from years of emotional turmoil.

After this pivotal trip, Ed moved to Denver, Colo. to begin a new life. He was a Friend in residence at Mountain View (Colo.) Meeting, which allowed him time to pursue his writing and work for peace and social justice causes. He met his loving life partner, Elaine Grenata, a member of Mountain View Meeting. Ed and Elaine shared their lives for the next 35-plus years, living together, supporting each other, and loving one another—a true testament to the Quaker belief of “love in motion.” Ed worshiped at Mountain View Meeting, but retained his membership in Yarmouth Meeting.

During this period, Ed published four books: Sleeping Brook, On Being Wounded, Beyond the Weapons of Our Fathers, and Worshipping the Myths of World War II. He was a guest lecturer at Colorado College, at Regis University’s Center for the Study of the War Experience, and at Thornton High School where he discussed his war experience with small groups of high school students. Ed was a docent at the Denver Art Museum and was named Teacher of the Year in 2002. He published articles in numerous journals and appeared in two documentaries, The Good Soldier and Bearing Witness. In 2010, he was awarded the Jack Gore Peace Award, given annually by AFSC to recognize community members working for peace and justice.

Ed was a gregarious man with a large and diverse circle of friends. His interests included art, history, literature, fly fishing, and social justice.

Ed is survived by his partner, Elaine Granata; three children, Susan Wood, Nancy Wood (Hans Brinker), and John Wood (Kimberly); and six grandchildren.

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