ORONO and BANGOR — George Washington Wood III, MD, died March 27, 2014, at Dirigo Pines Retirement Community in Orono. George was 92 years old.
George was born Dec. 5, 1921, in Macon, Ga. He was the only son and youngest of five children of attorney George W. Wood Jr. and his wife, Daisy Sloan Hunter Wood. George attended public schools in Macon until his family moved to Coral Gables, Fla., where his father continued his law practice. George finished his early public school education in the Miami area, after which he attended the University of Florida, where he graduated in 1943. He then headed north to New York City to pursue his medical degree at Cornell University Medical College, where he graduated in 1946. While at Cornell, George met and fell in love with Adelle Sawyer, a young college graduate from Bouvé Boston School of Physical Education, which at that time was associated with Tufts. Adelle was the Physical Education Director at the New York School of Nursing, which was affiliated with Cornell. George and Adelle married in 1944 in New York, and a year later they welcomed the first of their six children. After medical school, George and Adelle and their young family moved to Hartford, Conn., where, in the early 1950s, George completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Hartford Hospital with a specialty in lung diseases, specifically tuberculosis.
In 1952, George and Adelle moved their ever-growing family to Brewer, where he set up his private practice in internal medicine. At the time, George was the only chest specialist in tuberculosis in Maine. Over the next few years, he participated in a significant evolution in the treatment of the disease, an evolution that resulted in the closure of most of the TB sanitariums in Maine. In 1955, George and Adelle moved their family again, this time to Adelle’s family home at 840 Broadway in Bangor. The home had been purchased by Adelle’s father, Haven Sawyer, in 1917. The home at “840” became the center of the Wood family life and a hub of activity for extended family and friends for years to come. It was here that George and Adelle raised and nurtured their children in the spirit of love, devotion and commitment to family, to community, and service to others. They also instilled in them a strong work ethic, which came into play early on because there was a lot to take care of around their place, and who better able to handle the work than their six, strong able-bodied children! In the early 1970s, George and Adelle bought a cabin on the coast of Maine at Oak Point that became a summer gathering place for the Wood family and friends for many years. To this day every summer Wood children, grandchildren and their families get together at the cabin.
During their years in Bangor, George and Adelle became actively involved in many aspects of community life. Adelle focused her attention on the Girl Scouts, the YWCA and the Special Olympics, among many special interests. George focused his attention in other areas of the community: he served on the Bangor Planning Board (1964-1966), the Bangor School Board (1966-1970: Chairman, 1967), and the Bangor City Council (1978-1981). George and Adelle were strong supporters of music and the arts in Bangor, including the Bangor Symphony. George served for many years on the Symphony Board and was President of the Board from 1985 to 1987. They were also strong supporters of their local church, All Souls Congregational Church.
During his years as a physician, George was very active in medical professional organizations, associations, and local hospitals. He served on the Executive Committee of Eastern Maine Medical Center and was President of Staff, 1959-1960. He also served on the Executive Committee of St. Joseph Hospital and was Chief of Staff, 1970-1971. George was a member of the Maine Medical Association for many years in the 1960s and 1970s; he was President of the Association, 1972-1973. He was a member of the Maine Delegation of the American Medical Association in the mid-1960s; he was Chairman of the New England Delegation of the AMA, 1970-1971. George served on the Board of Directors of the Maine Lung Association, 1957-1983; he served as President of the Board, 1962-1965. He was also on the Board of Directors of the American Lung Association, 1973-1981. George was a founding member of the Maine Thoracic Society in 1955 and served as its President in 1957.
George was also very active on the political front. He served on the Republican State Committee from 1974 to 1978; he was a delegate to the Republican State Convention several years in the ’60s and ’70s. At the national level, George was a delegate from Maine and a member of the Platform Committee at the Republican National Convention in 1976. And in 1982, George ran for the Maine State Senate.
In 1976, after 25-plus years as an MD in the Bangor area, and guided by his interest in the health and well-being of young people, George closed his private practice and accepted a position at the University of Maine Cutler Health Center, where he served for the next 10 years. He started as an Assistant Director, then became Associate Director, and finally became the Director of the Center, a position he held from 1980-1986. During these years, George and Adelle were strong supporters of many activities at the university including sports and the arts. In 1985, George began his many years of service on the Advisory Board of the Collins Center for the Arts. In 1986, George retired from the Health Center and from the practice of medicine, but he remained closely connected to medical and community affairs in Bangor and remained involved in activities at the university. George was a Trustee of the University of Maine from 1987-1998. Also after his retirement, George served on the Board of Directors for the Bangor Theological Seminary for several years starting in 1998.
In 1988, George’s beloved wife, Adelle, died. A year or so later, George began seeing Nancy Nolde, widow of Dr. John Nolde, a professor at the University of Maine. In earlier years, George and Adelle and John and Nancy traveled in the same circle of friends within the University of Maine system and at their nearby summer cottages at Oak Point. A couple of years after the deaths of their respective spouses, the friendship between George and Nancy blossomed into love, and they were married in December of 1990. Nancy welcomed her new large family into her life and became affectionately called “Granncy” by the grandchildren.
George and Nancy took up residence in Orono, where they were very actively involved in many aspects of life at the University of Maine. Both were devoted to the academic, cultural and athletic activities at the university, including the Hudson Museum, the University of Maine Foundation, the Black Bear Scholarship Fund and the Collins Center for the Arts. In the early years of their marriage, they traveled a great deal, often to visit Wood family members who lived far and wide in the U.S. And they spent many summers at their cottage on the coast of Maine. In 2003 George and Nancy moved to the Dirigo Pines Retirement Community in Orono, where they remained until their respective deaths — Nancy died in April of 2013.
George was predeceased by his first wife, Adelle; his second wife, Nancy; and his grandson, Tod Schuetz. George is survived by his six children and their families: Winifred “Wink” Schuetz and husband, Chuck, their daughter, Christine, and her husband, Chris Hobbs; Adelle “Dee” Gautschi and husband, David, their daughter, Heidi Gautschi, and her husband, Marc Dupont, and their daughter, Lola, and Dee and Dave’s other daughter, Lisa Gautschi; Katherine “Kate” Black and husband, Greg, and their daughter, Jenna; Beth Whitley and husband Michael; George “Woody” Wood IV and wife, Holly, and their sons, Geordie and Tyler; and Janet Menser and husband, Mark, their son, Luke and his wife, Rachel and their son, Sawyer; and Janet and Mark’s daughter, Michelle and her fiancé, Chris.
The Wood family would like to say a heartfelt thank you to all the wonderful staff at Dirigo Pines Retirement Community. We especially appreciate their devotion and care of our father and Nancy during their time in Kenduskeag and for their ongoing love and dedicated attention to our father in the Arbor this last year. We would also like to give many thanks to the folks at New England Home Health and to the staff at New Hope Hospice for their care for our Dad.
A memorial service will be held 1 p.m. Friday, April 4, 2014, at All Souls Congregational Church, 10 Broadway, Bangor, with the Rev. Dr. James L. Haddix, pastor and teacher, and the Rev. Joan Jordan Grant, officiating. The family invites relatives and friends to a reception at the church following the service. Those who wish to remember George in a special way may make gifts in his memory to the University of Maine Foundation, Two Alumni Place, Orono, ME 04469 or to the Bangor Symphony, 891 Broadway, Bangor, ME 04401. Condolences to the family may be expressed at www.BrookingsSmith.com.