Curtis William Wood Jr. of Myrtle Beach, S.C., passed away on June 11, 2020 after a brief illness.
He and his family were residents of Cullowhee’s Wayehutta community for more than 46 years.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Carole Jeffries Wood; his daughter, Anna Wood Brady and her husband Jason Brady; his son, Gabriel Curtis Wood; two sisters, Glenda Wood McNeil and Lynn Wood Kirk; brother-in-law, Bob Kirk; sister-in-law, Peggy Jeffries; three nephews; a niece; and his beloved German shepherd, Kali.
He was born in High Point, N.C., Aug. 28, 1941, to Bernice Ijames Wood and Curtis William Wood. He graduated from Wake Forest University and received a masters and PhD. From the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was granted a Fulbright Research Grant to the Netherlands to research his dissertation in 1967-68. He was emeritus professor of history at Western Carolina University where he taught British and Appalachian history. He served as department head from 1990-98 and retired in 2005.
He published, often together with his colleague Tyler Blethen, a number of books and articles on the Scotch-Irish in Western North Carolina and created several exhibits based on this research, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Curtis and Tyler were the authors of a history of Western Carolina University in 1989 entitled “A Mountain Heritage.” Their publication, “From Ulster to Carolina,” was accepted for re-publication by the N.C. Division of Archives and History in 1998. His last publication was the editorship of a county history, “Haywood County: Portrait of a Mountain Community,” which won the President’s Award from the N.C. Society of Historians for the most outstanding entry of 2009.
He was co-director of the Regional History Project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and Senior Research Associate at the Mountain Heritage Center for a number of years. A Mentoring Award for Graduate Faculty was established in his name in 2015.
He was a former president of the Jackson County Historical Association, elected to membership in the Historical Society of North Carolina and active in the Appalachian Studies Association for a number of years. He and his wife were leaders of the first WCU study abroad program in London in 1971. He was co-leader with colleague Karl Nicholas of three WCU Summer Study in Britain programs in the 1990s.
Curtis was also involved in the community as a Cub Scout leader, a frequent speaker to community groups, and an active member of St. David’s Episcopal Church. His favorite volunteer activities included trail maintenance at Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway and volunteering with ARF on their monthly spay/neuter trips. He was a member of the executive committee at the founding of the first Jackson County chapter of the NAACP. For the last five years of his life, his cherished volunteer project was raking the paths of the Meher Spiritual Center.
He loved reading, especially history, spiritual topics, poetry and murder mysteries. Music was very important in his life, as were loving friends, meaningful conversation and several close friendships he formed with members of his Men’s Group over a period of more than 35 years. Most of all he was a lover of God.
Memorials may be made to Meher Spiritual Center, 10200 N. King’s Hwy., Myrtle Beach SC 29572; or to the Curtis Wood Award for Excellence in Graduate Faculty Mentoring, WCU Graduate School, 110 Cordelia Camp Building, Cullowhee, NC 28723.