James M. Wood, Jr., founding member of the Clayton State University Foundation’s Board of Trustees, passed away on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 at the age of 91.
Wood was an important member of the Morrow community and strong supporter of Clayton State University.
Born in Dade City, Florida and raised in the tiny mill town of Lannett, Alabama, Wood graduated from the University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1948.
While in college, Wood was drafted in the U.S. Army and fought during the occupation of Germany in World War II. He returned to finish college thanks to the G.I. Bill and began his journalism career in 1948 as a general assignment reporter for the Chattahoochee Valley Times and West Point News.
Over the course of his career, he worked as a news reporter, trade industry reporter, feature writer, medical science writer, editor, and publisher.
In 1963, he had an opportunity to purchase the Fayette County News from bankruptcy and published it alongside the Clayton County Journal. Less than a decade later, in 1971, he founded the News Daily in Jonesboro, Georgia, establishing a daily newspaper for the community.
As he began to play an active civic role in Morrow, his wife Martha joined Clayton State as one of its original faculty members, eventually becoming professor emerita of Mathematics.
By the fall of 1981, Wood switched to public relations, selling his interest in the News Daily and began work in public relations as Jim Wood & Associates. Wood also founded two airport trade newspapers, ATL, covering Hartsfield-Jackson International airport, and DFW People, at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.
For his 50 years of service to journalism in Georgia, the Georgia Press Association, of which he was a former president, inducted him into the “Gold” society of newspaper professionals.
Hearing the call to politics, Wood entered into government serving a three-year term in the Georgia House of Representatives, and later in 1982, becoming the Democratic nominee for the sixth district U.S. congressional seat.
Wood remained an active member of the local community, serving as the senior member of the Clayton County Board of Health, the Clayton County Rotary Club, the University of Alabama Atlanta Alumni Chapter, a lay leader at Jones Memorial United Methodist Church, and as a board member of the Good Shepherd Medical Clinic in Morrow.
For more than 30 years the Wood and his wife hosted a fundraiser known as the Tomato Sandwich Party, usually held in early August, offering tomato sandwiches along with entertainment and good fellowship.
Wood and Martha were married for 58 years until her death on April 18, 2012.
Among those who knew him, Wood could be describe in a number of ways– community advocate, entrepreneur, lay minister, philanthropist, mentor. But what most will remember about him is that he was a man of great strength and integrity.