Edward Watson Wood Jr. was born on December 12, 1924 in Florence, Alabama, the only child of Edward Watson Wood and Gertrude Green. The family moved north to Chicago in 1933. Ed inherited the tradition of the “citizen soldier” from an American family that settled in the United States in the 17th century. Out of that tradition, he volunteered for line duty in the Infantry in World War II, leaving behind a safe college billet. In September 1944, during the liberation of France, he was severely wounded by artillery fire, 12 km north of Metz. He was awarded the 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 his future wife, Alma, during this time. After they married, he and Alma spent a year in Mexico, engaged in service work for the American Friends Service Committee. Upon returning to the United States, Ed and Alma 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, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Ed and Alma moved frequently, eventually settling in Baltimore, where Ed was a city planner. During this time, Ed rekindled his love for the outdoors, sharing with his children his passion for camping, hiking, and sailing.
Ed and Alma joined the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and raised their children in this faith tradition. Ed remained a Quaker for the rest of his life, devoting himself to the pursuit of the Quaker Peace Testimony.
Ed and Alma divorced in 1973. After the divorce, Ed moved to the northeast, eventually settling on Cape Cod. When his youngest daughter graduated from college, Ed left corporate life behind and began writing full time. He wrote for his sanity, to make sense of what had happened to him as a 19-year-old in combat. In 1984, forty years later, Ed rediscovered the site of his wounding. That experience helped free him from years of the emotional turmoil now known as PTSD. As he wrote on return to the United States: “Pain is the needle that threads my beauty.”
After this pivotal trip, Ed moved to Denver, Colorado, where he began a new life. He knew no one and was starting over at age 60. His work as the resident in the Quaker Meeting House allowed him time to pursue his writing as well as to work for the causes of peace and social justice. Although he maintained his membership in the South Yarmouth Meeting on Cape Cod (a preparatory meeting under Sandwich Meeting, the oldest continuing Meeting in the U.S.), he rose to be clerk of the Mountain View Friends Meeting . At the Meeting, he met his life partner, Elaine. 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 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. Additionally, he was a docent at the Denver Art Museum and was named their Teacher of the Year in 2002. He was published in numerous journals and appeared in two documentary TV films, The Good Soldier and Bearing Witness. In 2010, he was awarded the Jack Gore Peace Award, given annually by the American Friends Service Committee to recognize community members working for peace and justice.
Ed was a gregarious man and made many friends in Denver, who will miss his humor, intellect, and wide-ranging conversational skills. His interests included art, history, literature, fly fishing, and social justice. He started every day with The New York Times, reading it from cover to cover over coffee. He died in his 97th year, in hospice care at his home, after a brief illness.
Ed is survived by his loving partner, Elaine Granata, as well as his three children and six grandchildren: his daughter Susan and her two children, Ian and Shiv, as well as their father Eric; his daughter Nancy and husband Hans, and their two children, Sophie and Augie; and his son John and wife Kimberly, and their two children, Ben and Peter. He loved his six grandchildren fiercely, treasuring every visit and phone call.
On August 28, friends gathered to remember this weighty Friend. His children flew in to Denver and more than 130 members of his many circles of friends - neighbors, writers, artists, Quakers, veterans, and activists - attended, physically spaced but socially united.