Special tribute for special man

A special tribute to the late Dr. J.B. Wood is prominent in the entrance of J.B. Wood Continuing Care Centre in the High Prairie Health Complex. Left-right, are complex volunteer co-ordinator Karen Zelman, interim site manager Samantha Nemec, project volunteer Sheldon Bruder and Twice is Nice Boutique Society president Diana Oliver.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Everyone who visits J.B. Wood Continuing Care Centre in the High Prairie Health Complex now has a better understand of the man for whom the centre is named.

A visual tribute to the late Dr. John Barrett Thornton Wood now graces a wall inside the west entrance of the continuing care centre that opened in the new health complex in April 2017.

Twice Is Nice Boutique Society in High Prairie completed the project, society president Diana Oliver says.

“We were requested by hospital administration to assist in recognizing Dr. Wood,” Oliver says.

“We worked with the Wood family and hospital administration to create something to acknowledge his service in the region.”

Wood served as a physician in the region from the 1930s into the 1970s.

The tribute with a photo was placed on the wall on Feb. 7.

A special tea is being planned for May when people are invited to share their stories about the well-respected doctor, Oliver says.

Born on Nov. 11, 1908 in Lethbridge, Wood died Feb. 20, 1984 in High Prairie at 75 years of age.

“We’re celebrating the life of a man,” Oliver says.

“He was dedicated and committed to the High Prairie region and his patients.”

She says Wood left a lasting legacy.

“Important people and their contributions should not be forgotten,” Oliver says.

“The picture that existed in memory of Dr. J.B. Wood in the old facility had unfortunately been damaged,” interim health complex site manager Samantha Nemec says.

“We wanted to create a new memorial to honour the legacy of Dr. J.B. Wood and Twice is Nice had agreed to collaborate on the project.

She notes administration plans to include other community history around the continuing care centre.

“We are seeking support from community organizations to create historical displays in J.B. Wood Continuing Care Centre,” Nemec says.

During his medical career, Wood was renowned by people in the High Prairie region over decades and generations of families, and throughout Alberta and Canada.

Wood became a physician in High Prairie in 1937, according to his biography in the local history book Trails We Blazed Together – the History of Grouard, High Prairie and Surrounding Areas published in 1997.

However, no information about the year he retired is stated in the history book.

In the early 1960s, he was appointed the director of emergency health services for Alberta.

Wood was elected the president of the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) for the 1969-70 term.

For many years, he had supported his colleagues to encourage the highest professional standards by serving on many boards, councils and committees for both the Canadian Medical Association and the AMA.

After the Gamelin Nursing Home opened in 1967 at the former hospital site on Highway 2 east of Highway 749, it was later named in honour of J.B. Wood.

Wood was honoured for his longtime service in Alberta when he received the Premier’s Achievement Award in 1981 from then-premier Peter Lougheed.

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