Jan. 11, 1924 to Oct. 20, 2023
Dr. Kenneth G. Wood passed peacefully in the company of family members on Oct. 20, just three weeks after his wife of 75 years, Jean, passed away.
Ken was born in Niagara Falls, Canada, on Jan. 11, 1924, to Blanche and George Wood. As a young child he explored the local creeks and waterways, collecting bugs, catching turtles, and enjoying the out-of-doors.
A gift of an $11 bicycle from his father expanded his horizons and sparked a lifelong passion for biking. On his bike he delivered newspapers, went to the movies, visited friends, and explored the Canadian countryside. He rode his bike well into his 90s and even enjoyed one last ride a week before his death.
During the summer of 1946, while studying biology at the University of Toronto, he found a job as the assistant to the chief bird officer of Ontario and Quebec, studying seabirds on the remote island of St. Mary’s on the north shore of Quebec. Frequently, Ken would row 5 miles in an open boat to the outport village of Harrington Harbour, where he met and wooed an adventurous young nurse, Jean Calderwood. Keeping with his unique sense of humor, Ken proposed to Jean by inviting her to join a club that required dropping the first two syllables of her last name. She agreed, and Jean and Ken were married on Dec. 19, 1948.
Ken received Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in biology and physics at the University of Toronto in 1947 and 1949, respectively, and his doctorate in hydrobiology from Ohio State University in 1953. He conducted his field research at the university’s Stone Lab at Put-in-Bay on Lake Erie, where he and Jean started their family and made lifelong friends. He taught biology at several colleges before becoming a tenured professor at the State University of New York at Fredonia.
Ken’s dedication to his students came through in many ways — leading field trips, mentoring research projects, and sharing coffee made on top of the lab’s Bunsen burner. Ken’s teaching style brought his students close to the science, treating them as collaborators in unraveling the secrets of natural systems. He kept in touch with several students long after they graduated, helping them with their careers in any way he could.
A lifelong tinkerer and inventor, Ken’s interests ranged from fixing old cars to building lab equipment. Jean and Ken loved searching yard sales and estate auctions for interesting items, which were a source for many of his projects. One memorable find was a full soda fountain that he installed in the basement, much to the delight of his kids, neighbors and relatives. A devoted (and competitive) game player, he played cribbage up until the end. His last game with his son came to a draw, with the two pegs poised evenly at the finish line. The winner of that final hand remains a secret.
Retirement took them to Whigham, Georgia, where they, once again, made many friends. Eventually, they moved to Cundy’s Harbor to be near their son Duncan’s family.
Ken was a beloved husband; the cherished father of Stephen, Deborah, and Duncan; a fun and crazy grandfather for Olivier, Raphaël, Emma, and Sam; a devoted uncle; and a friend to many. He is predeceased by his wife of 75 years, Jean, and a son, Stephen.
The family wishes to express their gratitude to the medical and nursing staff at Mid Coast Hospital, who showed compassion, grace and warmth through the passing of both Ken and Jean, and to the staff at Coastal Landings and Coastal Shores for their friendship, support and help over these last few years.
A celebration of Ken and Jean’s lives 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.