ORONO, Maine — Dr. George W. Wood III wasn’t born in Maine and didn’t attend the University of Maine, but he did spend much of his life in the state after marrying a local girl, and he spent years working at and supporting the state’s flagship university and his adopted hometown of Bangor.
Wood died Thursday at the age of 92.
He was a member of the University of Maine System board of trustees for years and supported the sports teams and the arts on campus, becoming an Honorary “M” recipient as part of the M Club along the way, and for a decade worked for UMaine’s Cutler Health Center, which he retired as director from in 1986.
Wood was born in Macon, Ga., on Dec. 5, 1921, but moved as a youngster with his parents and four siblings to Miami, Fla., where his father practiced law. When the Great Depression hit, his family was “wiped out like everybody else,” he said at his retirement party from Cutler, which was covered by the Bangor Daily News.
“The Depression made me deeply appreciate the value of family and the work ethic,” Wood said. “If you wanted to survive, you had to work, and all of us worked.”
He said he always wanted to be a doctor, so he could give back to the community. Wood graduated from the University of Florida in 1943, then Cornell University Medical College in 1946. While in New York, he met Bangor native Adelle Sawyer, the physical education director at the New York School of Nursing, which was affiliated with Cornell. The two married in 1944, and eventually returned to the Bangor area during World War II when Wood served as a doctor at Dow Air Force Base.
“He was in private practice from 1952 to 1977, when he decided it was his intention to treat the well-being and health of young people and decided to close his practice to first become assistant director, the associate director, and finally director of the Cutler Health Center,” his daughter Winifred “Wink” Schuetz, of Cupertino, Calif., said Thursday by phone.
He was a founding member of the Maine Thoracic Society in 1955, and dedicated numerous hours to the Maine Medical Association, Maine Lung Association, American Lung Association and other medical organizations.
Wood also was a longtime friend and vice chairman of the former Bangor Theological Seminary, and served for many years on the board of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, even serving as president for two years.
He served on the Bangor Planning Board from 1964 to 1966, sat on the Bangor School Committee from 1966 to 1970, and was a Bangor City Council member from 1978 to 1981.
When he left the council after three years, he had a few choice words for his fellow board members.
“Bangor is a ‘Class A city with a Class C council,’” Wood said in what he called “reflective” remarks intended to spark reaction from other councilors, according to the September 1981 Bangor Daily News article about the meeting.
Wood addressed the GOP National Convention in 1976 and in 1978 was the Penobscot County chairman of the William Cohen Senate campaign, according to BDN archives.
His first wife died in July 1988, and two years later, Wood married again, taking Nancy Nolde as his bride. The couple, who resided in Orono and later moved to the Dirigo Pines Retirement Community, were married for more than 22 years until her death last April. He died at Dirigo Pines early Thursday morning, his daughter said.
Wood is survived by his six children and their families. A memorial service is planned for 1 p.m. April 4 at All Souls Church in Bangor.