Nov. 15 marked the 30th anniversary of the shooting death of my wife, Karen Wood, in Hermon. At the time of her death, Karen and I, along with our 1-year-old twins, were new to the Bangor community and the state of Maine. The circumstances surrounding her death were well publicized by the press and television both within the state and throughout the country.
Because a generation of Mainers has come and gone since Nov. 15, 1988, it is unlikely that individuals under 40 have any recollection of who Karen Wood was or the unique circumstances surrounding her death.
Karen was shot by a “hunter” who presumably mistook her for a deer while she stood within our yard 130 feet from the house. The presence of buff colored palms on her white mittens were alleged by the shooter to have looked like the underside of a deer’s tail. Yet there was no material evidence of deer between Karen and the shooter or within the immediate and surrounding area near her body.
It would take a special grand jury empaneled one year after her death to indict the “hunter” for manslaughter and another year to try him on this charge. His acquittal by a jury of his community peers was viewed as either justice or a travesty, depending on one’s perspective.
Some may argue that the purpose of this column is to rehash the events of her needless death. But it is only through this tragic context by which I plea to all hunters to follow the basic tenets of safe hunting, principle among them “to be certain of your target and the area behind it.”
It is also my intention for this column to serve as a lesson of love and survival. While it took me and my family many years to overcome the grief of losing such a beautiful person as Karen, early on in the process I chose to focus on the loving care needed to raise my infant daughters rather than on anger and hatred toward the individual whose careless action took her from us.
I knew in my heart that Karen would want it that way. She also would have wanted me to have a happy life for my sake and for the sake of our babies. And after six years, I was able to find a woman who has become a wonderful wife and loving mother to our daughters. I attribute her influence as one of the primary reasons for their success and happiness.
Our daughters have become wonderful young women whose chosen careers in health care mirrors the loving commitment and caring of others that Karen’s spirit possessed. I can think of no more fitting memorial to their “Mommy Karen.”
Kevin Wood of Iowa City, Iowa, formerly lived in Hermon with his wife, Karen Wood.