Dr. William D. "Bill" Wood, 70, formerly of Medford, Massachusetts, passed away on June 4, 2017, in Sun City Center, Florida. He was known as a Renaissance man with a dynamic personality.
Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Nov. 10, 1946, to a family that struggled with poverty, he was instilled with a lifelong commitment to the fight for social justice and civil rights. Volunteering for the U.S. Army in 1964, he received a traumatic brain injury which resulted in a complicated, lifelong disability. Returning to the Boston area, he became a well-known and forceful political organizer involved in the radical movements of the 1960s. Over the years he was sought out by state and local politicians for his sharp political analysis and his keen sense of the person on the street. In recognition of this skill, Sen. Edward Kennedy personally solicited his help in the senator's tough election fight against Mitt Romney in 1994.
Dr. Wood created one of the first substance abuse intervention programs in Cambridge with funding assistance from his musician friend, Andy Pratt of the Pratt Institute family. His work led to an adjunct position at the Metropolitan College of Boston University teaching social and political science and government. He also taught at Cambridge and Brookline public schools and in the Industrial School for Crippled Children, where he received a Premier Teacher Award for his ability to reach at-risk teens. He returned to politics in his middle years, uniquely running a write-in ballot campaign, where he handily won election to the local Medford Democratic Party, serving 20 years as a ward chair.
His greatest passion, though, was as an artist where he acted in the New England and New York theater circuit. As a playwright, in 1995 he placed third in a competition of the New England Playwriter's Association, where his play was judged by such notables as Arthur Miller. A dance choreographer for the Boston Tea Party, a '60s concert venue in Boston, he created jazz impressionist dance routines. Moving to Greenwich Village for a short time in the early '70s, he was befriended by notable jazz and blues artist Mose Allison, who introduced him to famed method acting teacher Lee Strasburg. As his mentor, Strasburg offered him free classes at the Strasburg Theater and Film Institute in Los Angeles in return for his fundraising skills. It was there he met his wife, where they became an inseparable partnership. He built film credits as a character actor in independent films, having the privilege of working with such directors as Orson Welles and Peter Bogdanovich and was a performer with actress Paula Shaw's Second City comedy improvisational group. In 1975 he won the Best Actor Award in a short film at the San Francisco Art Awards. In later years, Dr. Wood used these skills to develop a local public access TV show called the "Medford Pundit," highlighting community issues and volunteers.
Returning to Massachusetts due to ill health, he became a successful entrepreneur in the new industry of computer technology, developing the first fully integrated EDI computer system in New England. This brought a guest speakership at MIT and the opportunity to narrate and host an independent film on EDI for PBS in San Francisco.
In 1994, he received his Ph.D. in humanities with a focus on disability rights and theatrical arts from the Union Institute and University of Cincinnati, in addition to his master's degree in computer science and his master's in integrated studies in education. Upon his retirement, he dedicated the remainder of his life to being a disability advocate for special needs students and providing free counseling to families with disabilities through play and expressive art therapy. His volunteerism was extensive: teacher of blind students at Project Literacy; president of the Medford Sons of Italy, a founding member of the Somerville Committee for a Response to AIDS; and a member of the Kiwanis Club of Medford, where he developed the largest public/private school Builders Club in the New England chapters. He was also a member of American Legion Post 447 of Somerville, Mass.
He is survived by his wife of 42 years, Carolyn Rosen; his brother, Charles (Jean) Wood of Arlington, Massachusetts; his sister, Lelia (Frank) Amorelli of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts; his wife's family, four nephews; and a great-niece.
Dr. Wood was preceded in death by his mother, Margaret (Hunt) Wood Faull; his father Harold Wood; and his brother, Harold Faull.
Dr. Wood will be buried in his wife's hometown of Loudonville in a private family service according to his wishes. The Lindsey Funeral Home, Loudonville, is assisting the family with arrangements. Memorial donations can be sent to Toys for Tots, Gift Processing Adm., 18251 Quantico Gateway Drive, Triangle, VA 22172; or the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, 17 Court St., Boston, MA 02108. Online condolences may be left for the Wood family by visiting www.Byerly-Lindsey.com.