In Memoriam: Honoring Edward T. Wood, Sr., MD

May 29, 2024 by

Edward Wood, MD, (center) with Vivian Pinn, MD and Melina Kibbe, MD at Black Medical Alumni weekend in 2022.

The UVA School of Medicine community is saddened by the recent passing of Edward T. Wood, Sr., MD ’57. Wood, who was born in Lexington, Va., in 1932, earned his Bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College in 1953. Later that year, he matriculated at the University of Virginia School of Medicine alongside Edward Nash, MD ’57. The two men were the first Black medical students at UVA.

During his time at UVA, Wood experienced segregation both in Charlottesville and in the hospital where he was trained. Years later, in an interview in 2021 with former School of Medicine Dean David S. Wilkes, MD, he would reflect on those memories. “Riding on the back of the bus, going to a movie through the alleyway to buy a ticket, as well as not being able to participate in the sporting activities of the town,” he recalled. “I overlook these things as insignificant parts of my career.”

In 1955, both Wood and Nash were interviewed for a controversial article in the Saturday Evening Post called “Southerners Will Like Integration,” written by Sarah Patton Boyle. “Mrs. Boyle was very nice,” Wood later said. “She sought avenues that should be broken and was a woman who wanted to break down the laws of segregation.”

Wood earned his MD in 1957 then completed an internship at Jacobi Hospital at the Albert Einstein Medical Center in the Bronx, NY. Next, he joined the Navy on the Berry Plan, serving in New Hampshire, Maine, and New York. “Floyd Bennett Naval Air Station was a very nice tour of duty but a very active place for aviators. I did most of the aviators’ examinations.”

After leaving the Navy, Wood did a three-year residency in ophthalmology at Downstate University in Brooklyn at Kings County Hospital. He then started a private practice in ophthalmology in Jamaica, NY, working in the same building for 60 years, followed by a 10-year stint at New York’s Jamaica Hospital as an ophthalmologist in the outpatient clinic until his retirement.

In 2022, Wood was honored as a trailblazer during the UVA Medical Alumni Association’s Black Medical Alumni Weekend at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Today, the Wood/Nash Legacy Bicentennial Scholars Fund honors the legacy of Drs. Wood and Nash by expanding access to medical education and professional development and helps to ensure that the learning and working environments shaped by and in the School of Medicine are inclusive in serving all people.

The 2021 interview with Dr. Wood and Dr. Wilkes, co-produced by the UVA Medical Alumni Association and the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, is available online. You can watch the video here, which includes a special introduction from UVA School of Medicine Dean Melina Kibbe, MD, and Chief of Diversity and Community Engagement at UVA Health Tracy Downs, MD.

Read Dr. Wood’s obituary here. 

Filed Under: Alumni, Community