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Gregg Donald Wood ’39

A picture of Gregg Wood

Gregg Donald Wood ’39, January 8, 2015, in West Linn, Oregon, following a bout with pneumonia.

Gregg grew up in Portand and went to  Washington High School before coming to Reed, where he distinguished himself as both a scholar and a sportsman, playing badminton, Ping Pong, and first baseman for the Reed baseball team. He made friends with Howard Vollum ’36, who used to throw pebbles at Gregg’s window in Winch when he wanted to meet up. In the winter of his freshman year, Gregg and some buddies attempted to distract news crews who had come to campus to film Emilio Pucci ’37 and his ski uniforms by jumping naked into the canyon swimming pool. (Unfortunately, the ruse failed.)

Gregg graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Reed with a BA in biology, writing his thesis with Prof. L.E. Griffin [biology 1920–45] on the embryonic development of dogfish. He earned an MD from the University of Oregon Medical School in 1943 and did an internship at Ancker Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. During World War II, he served as captain of the Army Medical Corps. After the war, he completed a general surgery residency at the U.S. Veterans Administration Hospital in Portland. Gregg practiced general medicine and surgery for more than 50 years at the Lovejoy Medical Clinic in Portland. He also worked in private practice in Lake Oswego, during which time he was quoted in news stories regarding concerns about the future of family doctors in the U.S. medical system being increasingly centrally controlled. He also served as staff physician at Reed in 1955–65, and at Lewis & Clark and Marylhurst colleges. 

Gregg was the physician for sports teams at Jesuit High School for 9 years and at Lake Oswego High School for 17 years. He was on the medical staff at St. Vincent Hospital until 1975 and was the Union Pacific Railroad’s Northwest Regional Medical Director from 1951 to 1986. As a charter member of Meridian Park Hospital, Gregg was elected president of the medical staff in 1984; he also served as secretary-treasurer. Active in the hospital’s cancer program, he served as associate fellow of its cancer division. As a board member for the Oregon Cancer Control Program, he helped develop innovations in cancer treatment of national significance and gave public lectures on health concerns.

Though legally blind in retirement due to macular degeneration, Gregg continued to volunteer at homeless health clinics, including Old Town Clinic, through the 2000s, and was medical director for INACT, a program in Portland that served people suffering from mental illness and substance abuse. He served several years at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center as low-vision program coordinator.

He was a fervent fan of the Portland Trail Blazers, a member of the Flyfishers’ Club of Oregon, and he taught fly fishing to children at OMSI. He fished at every opportunity, often on the Willamette River from his boat moored in Sellwood, usually with flies he tied himself.

Gregg also was an accomplished musician. He played piano for Dixie Docs in the ’60s, and for the Dixieland jazz band Graham’s Crackers, which regularly played benefit concerts in the ’70s and ’80s. He also performed as a soloist at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center and at the Lake Oswego Arts Festival. (He squeezed in a round of golf, too, when time allowed.)

Gregg had an abundance of zest for life. He never met a stranger—seeing something of interest in every human. After retirement, he began daily swimming at the Lake Oswego High School pool. He played in Portland Scrabble Club 308 until 2009, using specialized lighting and large-letter tiles. He and his wife, Elizabeth Thompson, whom he married in 1973, traveled to Scrabble tourneys from coast to coast for 22 years.

Survivors include Elizabeth, three sons and a daughter; two stepsons; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by a stepson. (Many thanks to Raymond Rendleman ’06 for writing this memorial.)

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2015

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