By Pat Stressman
I have known Don for many, many years. Our children had him for a principal at Edgewood School. He really worked hard for all the children at the school. I also worked in the administrative offices of the school and could see all the good that he was doing as an administrator. My children continued to call him “Mr. Wood,” even when they were married and had children of their own. They respected him as well as everyone who knew him.
In 2001 he became the pastor at Fruitport Congregational UCC and I was the secretary. He was very interested in the people who attended the church and tried to make things better for all concerned. I remember when he would always have some sort of gift for members of the service, whether military or first responders, on special days such as Veterans Day and Memorial Day. He was here when 9-11 occurred. Many people came in to pray during that time and he was always there to comfort them and pray with them.
As the years went by, he started some new programs, one of which was Holy Humor Sunday. It is the Sunday following Easter and there was always a theme involved. One theme was baseball. He loved the Cubs. He even had a picture of Wrigley Field with his name on the marquee. He wore his Cub shirt to the service. He once said that he wasn’t going to die until the Cubs won the World Series. He got his wish!
Don had a small French poodle named Morgan. Many times he would bring her to the office. She would stay under his desk or on his lap the entire time he was there. Just this past August, Morgan was so ill that she had to be put down. He was very emotional about the loss.
For many years, Don was in the Fruitport Lions Club. He and Dan Leaver pretty much ran the Old Fashioned Days Race every year. He would sit at his desk and type up the results to be published in the “Michigan Runner” magazine. Many of the statistics are still being published annually at every Old Fashioned Days Race.
It became more and more difficult for Don to get around. His knees and hips were becoming increasing sore. He lived in Hesperia and commuted to the office on a daily basis. He was having a hard time driving at night but continued to pursue it. It was suggested that he find a place here in Fruitport. He did, once, but it didn’t work out. The winter weather made it even more difficult for him and so on December 31, 2015 he retired from the church. No one knew what he would do with himself since his life was centered around the church activities. He loved to read and feed the wild animals around his house, but he still missed his friends from the church and community.
He will be missed by all who knew him.