Douglas Wood, former first selectman, dies at 85
Updated 8:29 pm, Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Douglas Wood, who served as Westport’s first selectman from 1989-93, died Jan. 8 in Port Charlotte, Fla., at the age of 85. He died after a lengthy illness, according to his obituary.
Wood held the town’s top job during a long record of civic service that began after he moved to Westport with his family in 1970. Before being elected first selectman, Wood was a member of the Representative Town Meeting, where he served as the legislative body’s moderator and on the Planning and Zoning Committee.
Pete Wolgast, who served alongside Wood, both on the RTM and in his capacity as assistant to the first selectman, recalled Wood as "a man of the highest level of integrity and when he set out to accomplish something, he got it done … as fine an elected official I’ve known."
Wolgast siad some of Wood’s most notable accomplishments included: playing a significant role in instituting the first town playing fields at Wakeman Farm; being instrumental in installing new docks at Ned Dimes Marina and managing his side of the budget so that there would be no tax increase for 1993.
Among his other accomplishments as first selectman were opening a local recycling facility and bringing computer technology to town government.
First Selectman Jim Marpe, in a statement expressing sadness on learning of Wood’s death, said he “set a management and leadership standard for the Office of First Selectman that has guided the activities of his successors, including me. In the four years he served Westport as first selectman, he made a lasting impact on a variety of town functions and facilities.”
Marpe added, “I understand from those who knew him well that Doug was a poised, calm and accomplished businessman who placed the needs and concerns of Westport at the forefront of his administration’s agenda. In the end, generations of Westporters now and in the future will benefit from his insight and leadership.”
In addition to the achievements cited by Wolgast, Marpe said Wood’s administration is remembered for adding to parking at the town’s railroad stations; initiating an architect-designed master plan for refurbishing Longshore Club Park, and helping to organize the Mid-Fairfield County Selective Enforcement Unit, the first government cooperative police effort with neighboring communities.
"Politics was a hobby and adventure to Doug,” said his wife, Helen Wood. “He was more interested in the government than the politics of getting there."
Klein said Wood applied his “brilliant” administrative skills in managing town business, which were gained, in part, from his earlier professional career with IBM.
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Wood graduated from Needham High School in 1947. He graduated with a B.S. from Boston University in 1951 and joined the U.S. Air Force where he became a first lieutenant.
Following his military service, Wood joined the private sector to work for Alcoa Inc. and then moved on to IBM where he worked for 25 years.
Besides town government, Wood was involved in other community activities, including volunteering at the Unitarian Church, where he served as religious education chairman and as chairman of the Board of Trustees. For four years, he was the vice chairman of the Bridgeport YMCA’s camping division. He also was a devoted Boston Red Sox fan.
A private family service will be held in the spring, according to the obituary.
He is survived by wife Helen, daughter Suzanne and son Donald and three grandchildren.