Jean Wood died peacefully, surrounded by family, on Oct. 2, just a month after celebrating her 101st birthday. As she would say, 101 and a ton of fun! And that she was.
Born in Ridgewood, New Jersey, she graduated from Ridgewood High School and, following in her mother’s footsteps, went on to get her Bachelor of Science in nursing from Columbia University.
With her degree in hand, she set off on a life of adventure, first as a nurse on a ship transporting refugees from Europe to New York after World War II, then as a nurse for the Grenfell Mission in the remote outport village of Harrington Harbour off the coast of Quebec, just south of Labrador. Her adventures were many, including being rescued by dogsled teams after the small plane she was in caught fire. Harrington Harbour is also where she met the handsome young biologist who would later become her husband. She knew that with Ken, her life would never be boring.
Jean and Ken were married on Dec. 19, 1948, in the middle of an epic snowstorm. They eventually settled in Fredonia, New York, where Ken was a biology professor, Jean taught nursing, and together they raised their three children — Steven, Deborah and Duncan. Jean filled the home with delicious meals, tended her large and prolific gardens of vegetables and flowers, undertook many creative projects, played games, and made sure all were welcome.
When the kids left for college, Jean and Ken continued their adventurous ways, which included a year teaching in India on a Fulbright Scholarship, and numerous trips to far-off places, sleeping in tents as often as possible. Retirement took them to Whigham, Georgia, where they built a small home and made many lifelong friends, especially at the Unitarian Church in Tallahassee. Eventually, they moved to Cundy’s Harbor to be near their son Duncan’s family.
Jean’s resilient spirit and optimistic outlook guided her through her life and inspired others. She was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, friend and neighbor.
Jean is survived by her husband of 75 years, Ken; her daughter, Deborah, and her husband, Guy, of Chambly, Quebec; her son, Duncan, and his wife, Josie; four wonderful grandchildren, Olivia, Raphael, Emma and Sam; and many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her son, Steven.
A celebration of her life will be held on Saturday, Nov. 18, at 1 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick. In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made to Heifer International or the Cundy’s Harbor Volunteer Fire Department.