Today is Earth Day, and Legends & Legacies contributor Susan Soper is remembering a woman who was “one of the elders” of the environmentalist movement.
Well before much of the country started to go green, Virginia “Ginny” Hill Wood was aware of the dire necessity of protecting our environment and taking action to preserve our natural resources. It was in her living room in Fairbanks that the Alaska Conservation Society took shape in the late 1950s.
Wood, who died at 95 on March 8, was the subject of a recently-published book – Boots, Bikes, and Bombers: Adventures of Alaska Conservationist Ginny Hill Wood – based on two years of conversations between Wood and her friends on her life’s adventures. Longtime friend and musician Susan Grace said, as an environmentalist, conservationist and activist, Wood was “one of the elders of our tribe.”
"A lot of the work she did was amazing — stopping the Rampart Dam, Project Chariot, speaking before Congress. She gave some eloquent testimony talking about the Arctic Wildlife Refuge," Grace told the Fairbanks Daily News Miner.
On March 20, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski entered into the Congressional Record a tribute to Wood that relayed the following:
* She guided her last backcountry trip at age 70, cross-country skied into her mid-80s and gardened into her early 90s;
* She took her first plane ride at age 4, sitting in her father’s lap with a barnstorming pilot;
* She biked through Europe for a year between studying at Washington State University and the University of Washington;
* During World War II she enrolled in the Women Airforce Service Pilots corps (WASPs) and ferried military planes through the lower 48 for which she later was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in 2010;
* With her husband Morton “Woody” Wood and longtime friend Celia Hunter she founded and ran the remote tourist resort, Camp Denali;
Often cited as a role model for other women, Wood said, “I did what I wanted to do and happened to be a woman.”
Written by Susan Soper. Soper is the author of ObitKit™, A Guide to Celebrating Your Life. A lifelong journalist, she has been a reporter with Newsday, writer for CNN, and Features Editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she launched a series called "Living with Grief."