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Ginny Hill Wood, 95, passes on lasting wilderness legacy

Ginny Hill Wood passed away on March 8, 2013 at her Fairbanks home. Her vision and perservance is woven into the fabric of our lives, from beloved ski and bike trails, Creamer's Field Refuge to Camp Denali, to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A celebration of life will be held Sunday April 7 at 1 pm at the UAF Wood Center ballroom. Active in the Northern Center from its launch in 1971, she penned her column, From the Woodpile, in our newsletter for 23 years (1982 to 2005) about living sustainably in the north, the latest roads schemes through parks, to the continuing fight to protect wilderness.

Ginny Hill Wood, 95, passes on lasting wilderness legacy

Ginny Wood, Creamer's Field September 2013 by Pam Miller

Ginny Hill Wood passed away on March 8, 2013 at her Fairbanks log home.  Her vision and perservance is woven into the fabric of our lives here, from beloved ski and bike trails, Creamer's Field Refuge and Camp Denali, the early wilderness ecotourism center, to the cherished Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other conservation areas throughout Alaska. 

A Celebration of Life will be held Sunday April 7 at 1 pm at the UAF Wood Center ballroom.  Bring photos to share and a mug for tea or coffee.

Active in the Northern Center from its launch in 1971, she penned her column, From the Woodpile, in The Northern Line for 23 years (1982 to 2005) about living sustainably in the north, the latest roads schemes through parks, to the continuing fight to protect the Arctic Refuge and other wild places.  She recieved the Florence Collins Award from the Northern Center in 2009 for her lifetime contribution to the environment of Interior and Arctic Alaska.

She told stories of her adventurous life as pilot, guide, gardener, founder of the Alaska Conservation Society (Alaska's first statewide environmental organization)and more in Boots, Bikes, and Bombers (2012), edited by Karen Brewster.   Ginny said,

"Coming to Alaska is where I became aware of the importance of wilderness and the need to protect the environment.  Before, I just went on adventures.  In Alaska, I was motivated to protect the environment because it became important to protect where you lived and how you lived."

Accolades are not Ginny's style, but here's a few more....

She recieved the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Citizen's Award on December 6, 2010, a fitting tribute to her visionary work in the effort to establish the Arctic Wildlife Refuge on its 50th anniversary

"The esthetic, spiritual, recreation, and educational values of such an area are those one cannot put a price tag on any more than one can on a sunset, a piece of poetry, a symphony, or a friendship…"

(Ginny Hill Wood, Testimony to Congress on Proposed Arctic National Wildlife Range, Fairbanks, 1959)

In 2011, the Alaska Women's Hall of Fame inducted her due to achievement shaping conservation in Alaska.  In 2001, the Alaska Conservation Foundation gave its first ever Lifetime Achievement Award to Ginny Wood and Celia Hunter. 

In 2010, Ginny Wood was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal - its highest and most distinguished award to a civilian - for service in the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World Ward II.  Senator Lisa Murkowski presented the medal to Ginny at her cabin.  In a heartfelt Congressional tribute at Ginny's death, the Senator recalled this special visit.  Murkowski said, "though many have noted that she served as a role model for other women, Ginny stated that 'I did what I wanted to do and I happened to be a woman.'  I admired her strong commitment to protecting the beauty of Alaska and her zest for life."  (Congressional Record, March 20, 2013).

In 1991, she and Celia Hunter received the John Muir Award, the Sierra Club's highest honor, and they were honored as Canyon Crones by Great Old Broads for Wilderness in 1995.

Ginny Wood's friendships were as deep and wide as the wilds of Alaska she shared in the garden or paddling in the Brooks Range.  She practiced living sustainably.  After she was no long driving, she touted her lower carbon footprint as a benefit.  

Her daughter Romany Wood and son-in-law Carl Rosenberg live in New Mexico where they practice energy efficiency and use renewable energy, and have been long time supporters of the Northern Center, including making sure our energy efficient furnace is tuned up each year.

Ginny Wood's long life yielded a vast wilderness legacy.... Now it is our turn in Alaska and across the planet to remember her vision and diligence so we too pass this heritage of land and life for future generations.

By Pamela A. Miller, March 2013

 

 

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