George Gardiner Wood, of Vienna, Virginia, passed away on October 10, 2021, at 92. After months of declining health, he died peacefully with his beloved wife, Geeta and son, Michael by his side.
George was born on August 12, 1929, on Hawaii’s Big Island to Margaret Sutherland Wood and George Gardiner Wood, Sr. Shortly after his birth, he and his family moved to Portknockie, a small fishing village on the northeast coast of Scotland where most of his father’s family resided. He spent his formative years there and developed a love for languages and literature while attending Fordyce Academy, a well-known grammar school.
In 1946, George’s family returned to Hawaii (this time to Kauai). George attended the University of Hawaii and majored in French, graduating in 1951. He went on to receive an M.A. in French from Middlebury College in Vermont (1959). George spent his early career working for CARE in Haiti and for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the former Yugoslavia, where he assisted with the Hungarian Refugee Program. After a few years teaching French at Hunter College in New York and at UCLA, he joined the UN in 1962 and worked on development projects in the Congo.
From 1963 to 1965, George served as an English instructor for the South Vietnamese Navy in Nha Trang and Saigon. After two years as a contractor for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), he officially joined the organization in 1967 to work on food aid, economic development, and refugee resettlement programs. In 1970, George met his future wife, Geeta Shrestha, while stationed in New Delhi, India. After many years together, they eloped in 1974.
Through his work with USAID and later the State Department, the two traveled the world together, living in Senegal, Niger, Morocco, Bangladesh, and Thailand, before eventually settling in Vienna, Virginia, in 1988. George retired in 1993 after 26 years of federal service. While his wife Geeta continued to work as a nurse, George settled into retirement by doting on the family dog, a faithful terrier named Rascal, who lived to the ripe old age of 15. The two were practically inseparable.
George loved conversing in Doric, a dialect of northeast Scotland, and listening to music from that region. He enjoyed watching boxing; reading history books, especially about the Vietnam War and the 1961 assassination of UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold; and tending to his wood-burning stove. He also enjoyed keeping in touch with family and friends near and far. George was a one-of-a-kind man who spent his life helping others. He was a good husband and father who was devoted to his family and cared deeply about the education and welfare of his son and grandchildren.
George was preceded in death by his parents, George G. Wood and Margaret S. Wood. He is survived by his loving wife of 47 years, Geeta S. Wood of Vienna, VA; son, Michael S. Wood (Megan L. Balduf) of Fairfax, VA; grandchildren, James S. Wood and Charlotte R. Wood; brother, David (Sue), of Colorado; sister, Rosemary (Alan) Tambe, of Michigan; several nieces and a nephew; and many other beloved friends and relatives.