Hybridizer Elizabeth & Ira E. Wood (1903-1977)
New Providence, New Jersey, USA
From The Bulletin of the American Iris Society No. 227(Fall 1977)
: Ira E. Wood died quietly at home on the morning of July 30th. The two people he loved most-Betty, his wife, and Louise, his sister were together with him for the last week of his life. Ira was born in Redlands, California. His father died when he was ten, the oldest of three children. He took a precocious interest in science and was a very successful student in those areas. He was employed immediately after being graduated from high school by the Echophone Company, an early leading manufacturer of radios. A loan from his sister Louise, plus the money he earned from summer and one full year of employment paid his college education at Stanford University. He completed the usual five year program for the BS and EE in four years. Bell Telephone Laboratories succeeded in luring him away from Echophone for one-third of the salary he was then being paid because he "wanted to work for the Bell System."
Circuit design was his chief interest at Bell, and during the Second World War it included circuitry for gun directors and for guided missiles. But his first interest was telephone work, and following a lengthy period at White Sands, New Mexico, his wishes to return to this line of work Were satisfied. Soon after this a mutual friend introduced Ira to Betty, another Bell scientist. In 1947 they were married and began what was obviously a completely satisfying and loving thirty years of marriage. The Woods' interest in irises was sparked by a small iris garden attached to an apartment they rented in Summit, New Jersey. Study of how to take care of the irises in this garden expanded and became the significant hobby of their lives. Sandy and Betty became mutually supportive experts in many aspects of iris lore.
It was through their expanded and active participation in the business and activities of the iris societies-local, regional, specialized, and national-that you and I came to know the Woods. Ira's competencei n society affairs was frequently not made obvious because of his modesty which in turn was a factor of a sense of humor which did not allow him to take himself too seriously. This sense of humor was expressed in subtle and quiet ways. It was one of the reasons why Ira was so successful in the conduct of iris society affairs. Sandy and Betty Wood's continuing influence on the iris societies is guaranteed by the fact of the existence of the small book, "The Handbook For The American Iris Society Members And Officers," Ira E. and Elizabeth A. Wood, authors and editors. This book is so well done that changes in it would almost certainly reduce its value.
Hybridizing suffers a grievous loss from Ira Wood's death. He had the good eye for the selection of parents and progeny. He had numbered seedlings that I liked very much and was developing some Siberian lines that were creatively individual but they had not reached the level of excellence that "meet my standards" (Ira's explanation). His single introduction was the lovely ONG'S HAT, and this was introduced for its genetic qualities. Betty has decided that it would be inappropriate to distribute the seedlings that Ira did not introduce. In 1974 Sandy was Second Vice President of the American Iris Society. Many of us looked forward to the day when this dedicated and competent man would assume leadership of the American Iris Society. But it was not to be. The Minutes for the Board of Directors Meeting in Tulsa for November 1974 note simply that the Board extended a vote of personal thanks to Ira after his resignation for "... his loyalty, untiring efforts, and devotion in service to the A.I.S." It was happily appropriate that both Betty and Ira were awarded the Distinguished Service Medal at the same time. Ira would have been embarrassed had the long list of his contributions to the American and Siberian Iris Societies been published in the Board Minutes. Our attention now needs to be directed to Ira as a person, as a man, as a friend.
Sandy never said to me, "I am your friend," but I knew he was and Esther's comments about the Woods made it clear that she shared my feelings. One thing we knew-that we felt good when we were with them. I spent a couple of days with the Woods in the first week in June and in spite of the fact that Ira's chemotherapy treatments had practically incapacitated him, he was himself. He was the gracious host and I felt good to be with him. He even helped me to feel some relief from my grief over Esther's death. In talking about the Woods to other members of the Society we were not surprised to discover that they too shared our reactions to them.
One of the highlights of each year for Esther and for me was to be with the Woods at the Annual Siberian Auction and Meeting at the Warburtons in Massachusetts. The Woods became dear to us. I who am suffering the loss through death of my lovely Esther can appreciate something of the loss and loneliness being suffered by Betty Wood. The Society offers Betty our sincere sympathy. In searching my mind for the words that could convey something of the personality and competence, the wholeness of this man, I recalled the word my students used to describe the professor for whom they had deep respect and affection. In their words, now mine, Sandy was a beautiful man. —WILLIAM G. MCGARVEY
Miniature Dwarf Bearded:
Intermediate Bearded: 'Willing Willie Brown'
Siberian: 'Ong's Hat'
, 'Ira Wood'
Standard Dwarf Bearded: 'Milla Milla'
Tall Bearded: 'Hint O' Mint'
, 'Purple Imp'
-- Main.RPries - 2012-05-18