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Lady Molly Wood

Teacher.

Born: 11 January 1909; Died: 13 June 2014.

Lady Isobel Mary (Molly) Wood, who has died aged 105, was a teacher and charity worker and the wife of Sir Henry Wood, the former principal of Jordanhill College of Education in Glasgow. She was one of the most distinguished residents of the city's West End and a great friend of the area.

She was born in Devonport, where her father was an electrical engineer. In 1912, the family emigrated to Canada, and her early education was in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. When the First World War broke out, her father returned to England wanting to do his bit for King and Country. Some years later, Molly and her mother also returned and the family reunited and settled in St Austell, Cornwall where she went on to complete her schooling.

She was an outstanding student at Bristol University, graduating in 1930 with a first class honours degree in English. She also played a full part in student social life, being involved in drama and musical performances and also in sport, representing the university at netball.

After teacher training, she took up a teaching post at Royds Hall School, Huddersfield, where she met a young teacher called Harry Wood. Romance blossomed and they were married in 1937. The couple then moved to Manchester, where all three of their children Hilary, Richard and Alison were born. In 1944, Harry accepted a position as principal master of methods at Jordanhill College of Education, and the family moved to Scotland and settled in Jordanhill. He became vice-principal in 1947 and principal of the college in 1949, enjoying a successful and distinguished career in that position until his retirement in 1971. In those days, middle class wives with young children were not expected to have a job, but Lady Wood had too much talent to sit quietly at home and soon became involved in a variety of activities suited to her exceptional abilities.

For many years she enjoyed a second career working with Anne McAllister in the Speech Therapy Department of the college helping students to improve their communication skills, of which she herself was a perfect example. She is still fondly remembered by generations of students who were guided and inspired by her.

She founded and ran the very popular Jordanhill College Wives Club, and was involved in charity work with the Glasgow University Settlement running a young mums' club in Temple and working in the Thrift Shop in Byres Road. In her eighties she volunteered with the Reading for the Blind Service. And of course she supported her husband, attending many college events and welcoming staff and other guests to their home.

She was a devoted Christian and for almost 70 years a loyal member of Jordanhill Parish Church, always in her regular place in the pew every Sunday until she became ill. Always a lover of company and conversation, she also never missed her regular Wednesday lunchtime visit to the church café.

Her 100th birthday fell on a Sunday, and after attending the service she made an unrehearsed but eloquent speech of thanks to more than 200 members and friends at a party in her honour. And she did so again five years later at her 105th birthday celebration at the Wednesday Café, just a few months ago. In these speeches she proved her claim that, despite some physical frailties, she still, in her words, had all her marbles, constantly confirming this with her impressive recall of names, dates, places and events, and in passing on jokes and amusing stories.

In 2009, already aged 100, Lady Wood returned to her alma mater as the guest of honour at Bristol University's own centenary celebrations, where she was awarded an honorary degree and warmly welcomed as their oldest living student.

At the centenary dinner, she astounded the distinguished guests by making a brilliant 15 minute speech, without a single note. The special issue of the university magazine had a photograph of Lady Wood on the front cover and a leading article about her.

In her late eighties, after her husband's death, Lady Wood made a full recovery from cancer treatment and at age 98 had a hip replacement to relieve severe arthritis, but she never let her mobility problems interfere with her busy social life. She was immensely proud when her husband was knighted for services to education and became Sir Henry Wood. She wore her own title lightly and remained the same warm, friendly and modest person she had always been.

Sadly Molly's son Richard, a professor of surgery, died some years ago. She is survived by her two daughters Hilary and Alison, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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