Elizabeth Harwood Wood (Betsey) died on Saturday November 7, 2020, three days after her 99th birthday. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts on November 4, 1921 and grew up in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. After graduating from Wellesley College and serving in the Army Map Service during World War II, she married Joseph Hooker Wood, Jr., whom she met during his brief assignment at the Map Service while on leave from his Army posting in Australia.
The newlywed couple moved to the Mojave Desert of California, where they lived for 16 years on a small alfalfa ranch and raised three children, Hooker, Carolyn, and Margaret (Peggy). Here, in addition to the daily chores connected with the farm and family, Betsey and son “Hookie” raised and raced homing pigeons, individually named after members of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Thus, began Betsey’s life-long association with a wide array of domestic and wild animals, including cats and dogs, a desert tortoise, Dutch rabbits, and flying squirrels.
In 1962 Betsey and family, accompanied by the desert tortoise, moved to the South, living for several years each in Huntsville, Alabama (three times), Covington, Louisiana, and Cocoa Beach, Florida (twice), where Betsey lived for many years after Joseph retired. In Cocoa Beach, Betsey was an active member of St. David’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, serving on the altar guild. During this time, Betsey collected sea beans and was an ardent gardener, raising orchids as a member of the Brevard County Orchid Society. Among her many volunteer activities, she served as a docent at the Foosaner Art Museum in Melbourne, FL. She and Joseph were avid bird watchers, and they enjoyed being on the lookout for manatees and the occasional alligator among other native species.
After the death of Joseph in 2008, Betsey moved to Galloway Ridge, Pittsboro, NC to be near her daughters Carolyn and Peggy. Here, she continued gardening on her patio, which was full of flourishing plants, and delighted in playing the alto recorder in a little residential group called The Mixed Greens. She became particularly interested in creating creatures from almost any object she chanced upon, ranging from leaves, pinecones and shells to dried banana peels and bottle caps. She was an active participant in Galloway Ridge’s Prose Group, contributing stories and essays to the monthly meetings for many years.
A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.
Betsey is survived by her two daughters, her daughter-in-law, Ann Wood, and her two grandsons, Adam and Zachary and their families. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts in Betsey’s honor may be made to Chatham Animal Rescue and Education (CARE) and the North Carolina Botanical Garden.
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