A First Day School alumnus of Salem Friends Meeting recalled how, as a child, she would look at attenders’ shoes in Meeting and observed that the shoes often reflected the person. She noted that David wore black leather shoes with a strap across them - they were nice practical shoes for a nice, practical man. David Wood was indeed nice and practical. He was also, as those who attended his August 7, 2021 memorial at the Meetinghouse noted, humble, creative, smart, insightful, funny, reliable and spiritual. He brought these qualities to our Meeting and enhanced us in practical and spiritual ways.
David and Virginia Wood became an integral part of Salem Friends Meeting in 2012. They had belonged to Quaker Meetings in Hawaii and Ohio. Newberg, Oregon was David’s birthplace and they returned to Newberg after retirement. Knowledgeable of the wider body of Friends, David sought to build bonds between the various branches of Friends. As a visitor for Friends General Conference and Friends World Committee for Consultation, he visited with over seventy Meetings, churches, and Yearly Meeting sessions. He and Virginia traveled to Friends Centers in Japan, New Zealand, and Nicaragua. They served as Friends in Residence for the Honolulu Monthly Meeting in 2010 to 2012. This desire to be a welcoming presence and resource for others was an important part of David’s life.
In our Salem Friends Meeting, David was willing and able to wear many hats. He took loving care of our old Meetinghouse as part of the property committee, yet he always recognized that it was not the building that held the Light, rather the people sitting in silent worship who held the Light. He and Virginia were the facilitators and teachers of First Day school at SFM for several years. Alumni of First Day school recalled David’s humor, open-mindedness and strong moral code. One alumnus noted, “They (David and Virginia) emphasized hot to be an active listener, to be empathetic and to take time to reflect before speaking.” While David and Virginia emphasized the children’s spiritual education, they also understood that part of their role was to enable children to live in the larger world. One alumnus explained, “They helped me think in a more complex way about conflict and ways to deal with conflict.”
David and Virginia were a team and it is impossible for us to reflect on David without reflecting on his life partner. We are aware that while we all feel David’s absence, for her, the loss is especially profound. David was adept at drawing out the talent of others, whether it be a child’s love of photography, a member’s green thumb, or another member’s peace and social justice activism and was supportive of the leadership of Virginia and others as he became less able to practically contribute.
We are holding David and his family, Virginia and sons Mark and Steven and their families, in the Light as we move forward without David’s warm presence. We see evidence of David in our Meetinghouse and yard, in the fine young people he and Virginia helped educate, and in our thoughtful contemplation of the challenges ahead. We know several other Meetings he attended over the years have noted his passing and are recalling his contributions to their communities. A physicist, David believed that death was not the end and that there were mysteries in the cosmos that we could only fully understand when we become one with the Light. He is part of that repeat mystery now and we miss him.