Phil Wood, retired national tournament director revered as Mr. Bridge in the Pacific Northwest, died on Feb. 14 of Parkinson’s disease. He was 88.
The Richmond BC resident was the first Canadian TD to earn national rank, the highest attainable. Wood began his directing career in 1954 after working as a baseball writer, broadcaster and statistician. He served as tournament manager for District 18 for many years, starting in 1971. He also managed country club bridge activity in greater Vancouver, averaging more than 400 tables per month. He retired as a tournament director in 1988 but continued to be active in bridge.
Wood was hailed for his role as co-chair of the 1999 Spring NABC in Vancouver, his back yard. ACBL Board Member Al Levy wrote in his District 24 newsletter that “Vancouver had it all . . . (and) much credit goes to Phil Wood.”
At the tournament’s Goodwill Committee meeting, Wood was honored for his long service and his expertise at promoting bridge by making sure everyone had fun.
Roger Putnam, another national TD from the Northwest, was among those who honored Wood at the Goodwill meeting.“The comfort and the best interest of the players always have been Phil’s No. 1 concern,” Putnam said. Retired Bridge Bulletin Editor Henry Francis, a former TD, knew Wood for many years, some of that time as a colleague.
“Playing — or working — at a Phil Wood tournament was special — different and exciting,” said Francis. “He wasn’t just a director — he was the Director. His adding speed was beyond phenomenal — most of us still believe he could beat a computer any time. Back in the days when we did manual scoring, he would take a 25-top sheet in hand, read the names of a pair as he added their score and then announce their score as soon as he finished reading their names.
“His fans could hardly wait to hear his stentorian tones as he made announcements — and he always injected humor — he never said anything as bland as, ‘Next round, all move please.’ ”
Wood was a veteran of the Royal Canadian Air Force. During World War II, he was assigned to England’s Royal Air Force Bombing Squadron, flying 39 missions over France and Germany and earning a Distinguished Flying Cross.
Wood is survived by his wife of 30 years, Maureen; daughters Laurel Jensen, New Braunfels TX, and Napiili Shipman, Richmond; son Kyle Shipman, Richmond; stepchildren Richard and Maria Melan, White Rock BC, and Bob Hilton, Calgary AB; grandchildren Kyle and Kellie White, San Luis Obispo CA; Luke Jensen, New Braunfels, and Rianna and Katrina Melan, White Rock.