It is with incredible heartbreak that we announce the passing of LCdr William (Les) Wood RCN.
Les leaves behind his beloved wife Nettie, children, Teri (Diana), Ritch (Jo), Cheryl (Rod) and grandchildren Michael (Nina) Andrew, Cydney (Conor), Sage, and Ella.
Dad fought with Murphy’s Law his whole life, and so it seems horribly ironic that after two years of near isolation, Murphy won, and dad caught COVID. Otherwise, we are positive he would have been with us many more years.
Dad was born in Victoria, but raised in Saskatoon, and was on his way to join the Army, when he noticed the sailors and their bell-bottom pants were getting all the girls – he quickly switched to the Naval Reserve. He earned his mechanical engineering degree at the University of Saskatchewan. On his way to class one day, he spotted a pretty girl with killer legs and followed her right to the Dean’s Office and in February 1950, he married the love of his life and worshipped the ground she walked on for the next 72 years. Dad served on the HMCS Fort Frances, HMCS Ontario, HMCS Athabascan and was aboard the HMCS Haida on a peacekeeping mission in Korea when his first child was born, whom he didn’t get to meet until she was three months old.
By the late fifties, Dad and Mom moved back to Victoria and had two more children. After retiring from the Navy in 1969, Dad became General Manager of the Pacific Undersea Gardens with the famous Aquamaids (but that’s a whole other story). Dad loved Victoria and his enthusiasm and the contributions he made to the city were endless, and include things still celebrated today.
Dad was the first president of Tourism Victoria (now Destination Victoria) – then a non-paid position. He created the popular ‘Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown’ and managed it for 20 years. He came up with the idea of the Victoria Silver Dollar – legal currency that was only valid in Victoria. A sneaky way to sell tourists “souvenirs.” He once paid his entire staff in bags of the coins. Mom and Dad were even “knighted” during the days when Victoria Days was a big deal and people dressed in Victorian costumes.
In 1982 Dad was managing the Oak Bay Marina when an injured Orca whale was placed in the pool of the Oak Bay Beach Hotel. It was dad (well known for his genius when it came to problem-solving) that designed a sling that could be attached to a helicopter to transport “Miracle” to the main pool at Sealand. The sling and helicopter design is still used today by aquariums around the world.
Affectionally called “Mr. Tourism” Dad also served on the Board of the Maritime Museum, was Past Chairman of the Tourism Section of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Past Commanding Officer #6 Company FOURANDEX of Canada, Past President Camosun Gyro Club and a Charter Member of the Victoria SKAL Club.
When Dad fully retired, he and Mom travelled some, but really enjoyed just being home with their family and grandchildren. He was always helping, building and fixing things and it didn’t matter what – homes, cars anything he could do to help his children, grandchildren, friends, or for friends of friends.
Always a class act, Dad insisted on wearing his tuxedo every New Year’s Eve. Dad would always say “too bad we were born good-looking instead of rich.” But you were wrong Dad, we were the wealthiest family in the world, all because of your love, humour and kindness! You will be missed and remembered by your wife, children and grandchildren. We will never forget what an amazingly awesome man you were!
Following Dad’s request, there will be no service, but next time you are walking by the Tourism Information Centre, please stop by the “Homecoming” Statue and pay your respects to dad’s memorial brick. Or visit the UVIC Memorial rose garden where his ashes will be placed alongside his parents.
Published by The Times Colonist from Mar. 26 to Mar. 28, 2022.