Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana Archives

Rev. George Bartlett Wood

The Rev. George B. Wood was born in Biddeford, Maine, on 17 June 1910, the son of the Rev. George Bartlett Wood Sr. and wife Christine (Peavoy). He attended the Hoosac School in Hoosick, New York, and graduated from Hobart College in Geneva. He then went to Nashotah House, graduating in 1935. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Wilson the following year. He married (1) Helen Elizabeth Slutes in 1936. They were subsequently divorced in 1971.
Wood began his career as an assistant at St. Barnabas Church in Rumford, Maine, serving while the rector was away on vacation. He returned to Wisconsin, where Bishop Wilson made him priest-in-charge of St. Andrew's Church in Ashland. In 1938 he accepted the post of rector of Christ Church in Austin, Minnesota, remaining there through 1942.

With the outbreak of World War II, Wood entered the chaplain school at Fort Benjamin Harrison near Indianapolis. He later volunteered for parachute duty and was attached initially to the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, by-passing the usual school for parachutists, and then was sent to Fort Bragg to join the 82nd Airborne Division. An elite military unit, the 82nd was deployed to North Africa and then became part of the invasion of Sicily in 1943. He later dropped behind enemy lines in Salerno and participated in the allied march to Naples. He was then sent to England for additional training and took part in the D-Day invasion in 1944, parachuting into Ste. Mere Eglise in Normandy. He took part in a fourth combat jump in Holland and was the only chaplain to make four jumps in the war.

On returning from the war, Wood spent six months looking for work. The Bishop of Milwaukee gave him the rectorship of St. John's Church there, and he also began speaking of his war experiences on a circuit, including a trip in 1946 to Indiana, where he met Bishop Mallett. When the situation at Trinity, Fort Wayne, became divided over the resignation of the Rev. James McNeal Wheatley, Mallett recruited Wood as a candidate. He was installed as rector in September 1947.

Wood began his ministry by attempting to heal the deep wounds within the parish, and he said he would judge everyone based on their present performances. He picked the slate of new vestry members in 1948, asked for the resignations of the heads of all parish organizations, scrambled the membership of parish clubs, and exhorted the members of the parish to treat one another as Christians. He also began to work in ecumenical ways in reaching out to other churches in the Fort Wayne community through the ministerial association. He began a series of renovations to the church in 1948 and rebuilt the organ. He pressed for an Every Member Canvass in order to increase pledging. A new Blessed Sacrament Chapel was added in 1951.

Four years later Wood and the parish began a drive to build a new Parish House with adequate classroom space for the growing number of Sunday School children. The new structure, completed in 1956, made Trinity's property one of the most impressive in the diocese. Designed by the architectural firm of A. M. Strauss, it added to the existing gymnasium and also included the Christ the King Chapel, designed for use by Sunday school children.

With the Parish House completed, Wood turned his attention next to the need for new Episcopal missions in the Fort Wayne area. In 1961 the vestry purchased land at St. Joe and Flutter roads and constructed a small church known as St. Alban's two years later. The Rev. John B. Hills was installed as its vicar. Wood urged all of Trinity's parishioners residing on the north side of Fort Wayne to support the mission. Then in 1966, Wood negotiated for the purchase of additional land at Hessen Cassel and Tillman roads for what would become St. Philip and St. James mission. A utility building was constructed and dedicated in 1970.

Wood retired from Trinity in 1971 when he married his second wife, Evelyn Miles, a parishioner. The couple moved to Huntsville, Alabama, where Wood joined the staff of the Church of the Nativity as a non-stipendiary priest. He continued to serve as chaplain for the 82nd Airborne Division and was active in its veterans' activities. Evelyn died by suicide in 1988, and Wood married his third wife, Wilma Pratt. He died in Georgia at the home of his daughter on 5 January 1999 and was buried beside his third wife in Huntsville.


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