Memorials

THOMAS WOOD, JR.

In The Court Of Common Pleas Of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, 07-02796

IN THE MATTER OF THE DEATH OF THOMAS WOOD, JR., ESQUIRE

RESOLUTIONS OF THE COMMITTEE

TO THE HONORABLE JUDGES OF THE COURT:

On the 16th day of November, 2007, the Honorable Kenneth D. Brown, President Judge of the 29th Judicial District of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, appointed the undersigned Committee to draft Resolutions memorializing the life of Judge Thomas Wood, Jr., and to submit the same to the Court on Wednesday, December 12, 2007, at 3:30 p.m., in courtroom number 1 of the Lycoming County Courthouse, Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

The undersigned Committee submits the following Resolutions for your Honorable Court’s consideration:

  1. Thomas Wood, Jr. was born April 11, 1915, on a Muncy Creek Township property settled by his family in 1813. His parents were Thomas Wood, Sr., a Lycoming County attorney, and Blanche Stoner Wood. Tom Jr., was the fifth generation of his family to reside in Muncy.
  2. Tom was educated in the Muncy public schools, was a 1932 graduate of Muncy High School and was inducted into the Muncy High School Academic Hall of Fame in 1997. Following a family tradition begun by his parents and now spanning four generations, he attended Bucknell University, graduating in 1937.
  3. He received his law degree from Dickinson School of Law, Carlisle, in 1940, and served as law clerk to the Honorable Guy K. Bard, Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
  4. In 1941 he joined his father and older brother, William, practicing law in Williamsport and Muncy. In 1942 both young men left the firm for service in the United States Navy.
  5. Following World War II, William Wood associated with a Harrisburg law firm, and Tom Wood, Jr., after three years in the U.S. Navy, resumed the practice of law in Williamsport and Muncy, with his father, as Wood and Wood. After his father’s death in August of 1947, the firm’s practice was continued by a partnership established with John O. Thomas, which continued until 1953, when Mr. Thomas accepted a position in the legal department of the Insurance Company of North America.
  6. Thereafter, a partnership was formed with Nathan W. Stuart, and later enlarged by the addition of Bertram S. Murphy, into the partnership of Wood, Stuart and Murphy which continued until Thomas Wood, Jr. was elected to serve as one of the two judges in Lycoming County in 1963.
  7. During his active practice as a lawyer in Williamsport and Muncy, he served from April, 1946 to August, 1951, as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and from 1955 to 1963, he served as a Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania, assigned to handle all Lycoming County civil matters involving the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He also served as Solicitor for Muncy and Picture Rocks Boroughs, the Muncy Borough Municipal Authority, and for Moreland and Clinton Townships.
  8. A life-long Democrat, in 1963 he was elected to a ten year term as Common Pleas Judge in Lycoming County, in a contest with the incumbent President Judge Charles Scott Williams. Judge Charles F. Greevy, Jr., who was elected in 1952, became President Judge of the County, in January, 1964.
  9. During his ten years on the Lycoming County bench, Judge Wood handled juvenile court proceedings and firmly endeavored to increase the dispositional options available to the Court in dealing with juveniles, and to introduce measures intending to prevent and reduce delinquency. He participated actively in the programs of the Pennsylvania Council of Juvenile Court Judges and was President of the Council during his last years on the bench. Juvenile facilities and services in Lycoming County were increased substantially during his term of office. One such facility, a residential treatment center for juvenile girls was established in cooperation with the local Junior League, which contributed generously to the funding of the center, and to its management. Through these ventures and Judge Wood’s active interests he enhanced public awareness of the value of rehabilitative treatment of juveniles.
  10. Judge Wood filed for retention election for a second term in 1973, and he was strongly endorsed by this Bar. This new yes-no retention-vote system had recently been incorporated into the Pennsylvania constitution. Immediately prior to that election Judge Wood had handled several volatile cases, among them an action challenging the proposed new fluoridation of public water and a taxpayer’s action challenging the proposed new Williamsport Area High School, the so-called "Taj Mahal" project. The groups disappointed by the outcomes of those suits did not understand the limited role of the judiciary on those issues, and members of those groups actively opposed the Judge’s retention. Further increasing the challenge of the retention election, a murder of a young lady in the South Williamsport area occurred before the election and there were rumors that the suspect had been on probation at the time, rumors that turned out to be untrue. The Judge lost the retention vote, and a study showed that the vote in the South Williamsport area was heavily "no" whereas the further one looked beyond that area the more favorable the result was for the Judge. He strongly carried the Eastern and Western parts of the County. A statewide lesson learned from this unfortunate retention result has been that it is unfair for judges facing retention to be assigned cases that are obviously volatile immediately before facing retention election.
  11. Following his departure from the bench, in January, 1974, he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the teaching staff of the Department of Criminal Justice, at Mansfield State University. Later, he became Director of the Susquehanna Legal Services Inc., a regional nonprofit agency providing free legal services to low income persons in north central Pennsylvania.
  12. He resigned from the post of Director of Susquehanna Legal Services upon appointment in 1978 to a judgship on the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and upon retirement from that position he established a bankruptcy consulting service for attorneys. Tom also served as a Divorce Master in Lycoming County, by appointment of the Court.
  13. In 1985, he was appointed to serve as an Interim Judge in the Bankruptcy Court of the Northern District of Iowa, and later also for the Southern District. This service was terminated in June, 1987, following the establishment of additional resident judgships.
  14. Judge Wood’s community services included membership on the Boards of Directors of the Divine Providence Hospital and Muncy Valley Hospital. He was an active boy scout in his youth, and maintained a significant commitment to scouting and was a recipient of the Silver Beaver Award, the highest level recognition for service to the boy scout movement. He was a longtime member and then President of the area Council of Boy Scouts of America, a member and past President of the Muncy Rotary Club, a member of the Muncy Presbyterian Church where he also served as an elder, and was also a member of the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Regional Synod of the United Presbyterian Church.
  15. He was President of the Lycoming Law Association in 1956, and in 1957 he was Chairman of the Law Association Committee responsible for the establishment of an organized legal aide program in Lycoming County. He was a member of Roland Ritter Post No. 268, American Legion, and Muncy Lodge No. 299, Free and Accepted Masons.
  16. In 1960, Tom Wood developed Highland Ski Area, in Huntersville, Pennsylvania, and over succeeding years he introduced hundreds of men, women, children, and his family to his favorite sport of skiing. He remained physically active as a dedicated skier, an expert and aggressive tennis player, and an active member of his hometown community of Muncy, until his death on Tuesday, September 25, 2007, at the Muncy Valley Hospital.
  17. Judge Wood was preceded in death by his first wife, Irene Gentzler Wood, in 1998, after 58 years of marriage, and by three brothers: William H. Wood, Harry "Pete" Wood and James Stoner Wood.
  18. Surviving are his wife, Barbara Stirling Wood, his son, James Wood and Gloria Miele, of Williamsport and Muncy; daughters Susan Wood Holt and Douglas Holt, of Williamsville, New York, and Kathryn Wood McCorkle and David McCorkle, of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania; step-daughter, Winona Marrel and Julian Marrel of Lyon, France; a sister, Fannie Rachel "Suze" Brown and Rod Brown of Newton Square, Pennsylvania; seven grandchildren, Elizabeth Miele, Cutter Wood, Peter McCorkle, Erin McCorkle Harcourt, Carolyn Holt Wentler, Matthew Holt and Michael Holt; two step-grandchildren, six great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
  19. Funeral services were held Saturday, September 29, 2007, at his home church, Muncy Presbyterian Church, Muncy, and officiated by his former Church Minister, The Reverend Paul Toms. He was buried in the Muncy Cemetery.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the undersigned, joined in by the Lycoming County Bar, do hereby recognize and mourn the passing of the Honorable Thomas Wood, Jr., and remember him as an exemplary community servant and good friend, a man of conscious, commitment, and quiet strength, and honor his extensive and remarkable contributions to the community and beyond, a man who was loved, honored and respected by all who had the privilege to be a part of his life.

AND BE IT RESOLVED FURTHER, that these Resolutions and statements be spread at length upon the Minutes of the court with copies to Judge Wood’s family and descendants, and be published in the Lycoming Reporter, and

AND BE IT RESOLVED FINALLY, that this Court and the Lycoming County Bar extend to Thomas Wood, Jr.’s surviving wife, Barbara and to his children, spouses of children, grandchildren, sister, step daughter and great grandchildren, nieces and nephews, our deep and heartfelt expression of sympathy and respect for Thomas Wood, Jr.

Respectfully submitted,

Thomas C. Raup, Chairman
Michael Collins, Esquire
Robert Elion, Esquire
Charles F. Greevy, III, Esquire
Paul Wertman, Esquire
Robert Wise, Esquire