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Percy Wood Jr.

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Dr. Percy Hoxie Wood Jr. 1921-2010 BENNINGTON Dr. Percy Hoxie Wood Jr. died Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at the Vermont Veterans Home. He was 89 years old. Born in Memphis, Tenn., on June 20, 1921, he was the third child of Amelia Russell Wood and Dr. Percy Hoxie Wood. He was predeceased by his brother Russell Wood, his sister Amelita Heinz, and his wife of 63 years, Nancy Tate Wood. He came to Bennington from Mexico in 2007 to live with his daughter Amelia Wood Silver and son-in-law David Franklin Silver, shortly after the love of his life, Nancy, died. In the brief period before the symptoms of the rare neurological disease Progressive Supranuclear Palsy appeared and destroyed his ability to speak, walk, or move, Percy walked four miles a day around Old Bennington, making friends in the neighborhood and in the community. At 86 he was more irreverent, dashing, curious, charming and on the ball than most people half his age. Educated at the McCallie Military Academy in Chattanooga Tennessee, at the University of Virginia and the University of the South, Percy was a member of Admiral Halsey's staff on the U.S.S. Missouri in the Pacific Theater during World War II. In 1944 he married Nancy Tate, the daughter of the novelist Caroline Gordon and poet Allen Tate. After the War he went to medical school at the University of Tennessee, completed his internship at the Bethesda Naval Hospital and his psychiatric residency at the University of Pennsylvania. His mother suffered from bipolar disorder, which he identified as his inspiration for becoming a psychiatrist. He spent his career as the Clinical Director of the Carrier Clinic (now the Carrier Foundation) a private psychiatric hospital in Belle Mead, New Jersey, near Princeton. As the Clinical Director, he sparked a resurgence and transformation of the hospital, turning it into a teaching center, which attracted many renowned and dedicated doctors. He and Nancy raised their four children in Princeton, then moved to San Cristobal de Las Cases, Chiapas, Mexico, in 1979. For 25 years Percy and Nancy hosted dozens of world travelers in their guesthouse in San Cristobal. They took their friends and guests on horseback into the mountains to see the flora and fauna of the Mayan highlands and to visit Mayan villages. They entertained and fed anthropologists, poets, students, and multitudes of wanderers in their colonial house in San Cristobal. Percy loved life, and engaged in it with extraordinary vigor and joy. He boxed in college, was a poet, passionate gardener and tree-lover, healer, tennis player, downhill skier, and at age 70 learned to jump on his beloved black stallion, Zar. He was a great dancer, loved music and parties, and created beauty wherever he lived. Percy's mercurial charm and almost psychic ability to see deep into the hearts and souls of his patients, family and friends, endeared him to all different kinds of people. He had a wicked and bawdy sense of humor and loved to play tricks. In his final years in Vermont, it was astonishing to observe his graceful transition from man of constant action into a person unable to walk, move or communicate. He accepted everything that came and never expressed one moment of self-pity or regret. He never complained and instead made the lives of his family and everyone who cared for him during the final years feel like the greatest gift. We will miss him so! He is survived by his four children, Percy Hoxie Wood III of Olive Branch, Miss., Allen Tate Wood of Dover, N.H., Caroline Wood Fallon and her husband Christopher of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Amelia Wood Silver and her husband David of Bennington, Vt., seven grandchildren: Marlene Cristina Wood, Serena Winter and her husband Barney, Christopher Fallon Jr and Nicholas Fallon, Caroline and Natalie Silver, Kyle Wood, and four great-grandchildren: Krystal, Austin, Glover and Nancy Gianna Winter. He is also survived by his nieces and nephew Julia Hussey and Ruth Wood and Malcolm Wood, and beloved first cousin Dr. George (Fat) Coors of Memphis, Tennessee. At Percy's request, no services will be held. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Amnesty International or the Natural Resources Defense Council through the office of Mahar & Son funeral home, 628 Main Street, Bennington, Vermont 05201.

Published in Bennington Banner on Jan. 7, 2011
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