For 15 years, David Wood taught boys in the McCallie Middle School the joy and self confidence that comes from performing on stage. As the Drama Director and Technical Director for the Middle School, Wood helped the youngest McCallie students find their voice as he touched the lives of countless young men and their families through theater and dance. Wood also worked with students in the Upper School performing arts as well, leaving a legacy that reaches across the McCallie campus and beyond.
Wood, 67, passed away Thursday, Feb. 1 after a brief illness. His impact at McCallie will be long-lasting, but his work reached far beyond the boys he taught on the Ridge.
“David inspired Middle School boys to do things they may have not thought possible,” Assistant Headmaster Kenny Sholl said. “His passion for performing arts was contagious, and he shared that in his work at McCallie in so many productions over the years. His contributions are substantial, and he will be missed by all of us.”
Middle School Assistant Principal for Academics Rebecca Burnette saw first-hand how wood inspired so many boys, including her son Jackson Burnette ‘14, who chose to study theater because of Wood’s influcence.
“As the mom of a young man who is about to get his college degree in theater, I know that I cannot expect him to be rich,” she said. “If he can live a life like David's, where he can make a reasonable living doing the things that he loves to do and impacting others in a positive way while doing it, I will be a very happy mom until the day I die.”
In addition to his work at McCallie, Wood was active in the performing arts throughout his life. He was a dance instructor for 34 years, co-owner of Massari Dance and danced principal roles with the Chattanooga Civic Ballet, the Scottish American Ballet, Allegro Dance Theater and the Chattanooga Dance Ensemble. He performed with the Chattanooga Opera for many years and was a professional musician and church organist for 47 years.
Wood, who grew up in St. Elmo, served as artist-in-residence for the Tennessee Arts Commission, Allied Arts and the WolfTrap Foundation, and he was a lighting designer, director and choreographer for more than 100 local productions. Wood also was adjunct faculty in Chattanooga State’s professional acting program.
Wood attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and served for 40 years as organist and soloist at First Church of Christ, Scientist on McCallie Avenue.
At a special Middle School devotional to remember Wood, computer teacher Karen Hulvey shared a quote from Christopher Morley that captures the spirit and personality of this special man.
"There is only one success, to be able to spend your life in your own way.”
Wood is survived by two sisters, Lynda Mee of Pickens, S.C. and Ola Manley (Ron) of Fincastle, Va.; three brothers, James Wood (Shannon) of Kailua, Hawaii, Roy Wood (Julie) of Charlotte, N.C. and Joe Stargel of Dunlap, Tenn.; close longtime friends Sue Christensen and Donna Massari; numerous nieces and nephews; plus his immense family of friends, students and dancers.