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Camden remembers Max Wood’s generosity

Country Club, FAC supporter dies at 88

Posted: February 22, 2013 5:20 p.m.
Updated: February 25, 2013 5:00 a.m.

 

“Max Wood loved Camden,” Joe Sullivan said of his best friend who died Tuesday at the age of 88.

Both Sullivan and his wife, Brenda, met Wood and his wife, Sibby, after the Sullivans moved to Camden in 1982. They became friends immediately, Sullivan said. He and others said Wood’s love of Camden was evident not only in his support of the Fine Arts Center (FAC) of Kershaw County and the Camden Country Club (CCC), but in his friendships.

He said the best way to describe his doubles tennis partner was as a curmudgeon.

“He didn’t like to run, but he hit a great ball. When playing golf, if you hit a bad shot, he let you know you did. A bad shot’s a bad shot,” Sullivan said, laughing. “The same was true on the tennis court. We had good times.”

Wood was passionate about golf and was a devoted CCC supporter.

Matt McCarley, head golf professional there, talked about Wood’s interest in golf and the many financial commitments he made.

“A day seldom went by, rain or shine,” said McCarley, “that he didn’t come by the club to play or at least check on things. He loved everything about the club. From a financial standpoint, he was heavily responsible for all the capital improvements that were made over the last 10 years.”

When the club planned a major renovation of its revered Donald Ross-designed course, it was Wood who stepped up and made the entire project possible through his generosity.

“The renovation, which was very successful, wouldn’t have happened without Mr. Wood. This place would not be what it is without him,” McCarley said.

Wood also provided the funds for a patio project and for a recreation room upstairs in the clubhouse, which was named in his honor.

He was recently made a lifetime member of the club in recognition of his support and his love of the game.

At 88, he was still playing regularly and just a few days before his death he had signed up to play with McCarley in a tournament which was scheduled last Friday.

Sullivan said that in Wood’s later years, his friend would visit him after playing a round of golf.

“Rather than go home, he’d come here and shoot the breeze. He would come here once a week and have a glass of wine. We’d talk about our interest in the Fine Arts Center and the charities we contribute to,” Sullivan said.

The Woods worked together to found and support the FAC, with Max Wood serving as president of its board at one point. FAC Executive Director Kristen Cobb said she appreciated not only Wood’s financial contributions, but the chance to become good friends with him and his wife.

“It’s before my time, but Sibby and Max were certainly part of the founding members back in 1973. Both of them were huge supporters of the arts and had a strong vision of what something like the FAC could be for Camden and Kershaw County,” Cobb said.

One thing about Wood that some people might not know, she said, is that he liked to sing.

“We had a dinner when Claire Bryant came back in the fall. Sibby and Max and one of their children came. He gave a toast and sang a bit,” she said.

Cobb said Wood’s commitment to the FAC went beyond money.

“When the FAC was basically the Douglas-Reed house and a large field, he would bring his tractor down and mow the property every other week. He had that level of commitment,” Cobb said.

She noted that Wood Auditorium in the Bassett Building is named for the Woods, a thank-you for a major contribution to refurbish the building back in the 1990s.

“When there was a need, you could reach out to them,” Cobb said. “He loved the place, even as it changed and through all the executive directors. I know he was very proud of what the FAC did and what we offered to the community, the lives we impacted and the children we touched, and that makes me feel good.”

Cobb considered Wood and his wife “very close friends” and has a “tremendous amount of respect for their philanthropic spirit.”

“I’m deeply saddened by his loss and will be forever grateful for what he did for the FAC and the community at large. If he supported you, you had him 100 percent. We will certainly miss him and we’ll be there to support Sibby,” she said.

A funeral service celebrating Wood’s life will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Bethesda Presbyterian Church. The family will receive friends following the service at Westminster Hall. Memorials may be made in Wood’s memory to the Walter M. Crowe Animal Shelter, 460 S. Fair Street, Camden, SC 29020.

Born in Detroit, Mich., Wood retired as director of sales for Whirlpool Corporation. He was a U.S. Army WWII veteran where he received the Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon with two Bronze Battle Stars, Bronze Service Arrowhead, Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one Bronze Battle Star and four Overseas Service Bars. Wood also made eight first-wave landings in the Philippines. Max was a former active Shriner in the Charlotte, N.C., area; a board member of the National Steeplechase Museum; and a founder and member of what is now the KershawHealth Foundation. Wood was also a long-time member of the Camden Hunt and long-time anonymous donor for people in need.

In addition to his wife, Wood is survived by his children, James Wilson Wood and his wife, Judith, of Charlotte N.C., Alison W. Darch of Raleigh, N.C., Matthew William Fowler and his wife, Bonnie, of Coloma, Mich., Sarah Fowler duPont and her husband, Douglas Wooten DuPont, of Charlottesville, Va., and Thomas Harold Fowler and his wife, Nancy, of St. Joseph, Mich.; grandchildren, Emily, Max, Renee, Carrie, Alexandra, William, Sophie, Scott, Elizabeth and David; and brother, Richard Wood, and his wife, Betsy, of Los Gatos, Calif.

(C-I contributing editor Glenn Tucker contributed to this story.)

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