Former state Rep. Jerry Jackson said he still remembers the first time he met Joe T. Wood. It was around 1950 when Wood was operating the soda fountain at the old Chicopee drug store and Jackson used to come in for an occasional pop when he was just 8 years old.
Little did the two men know back then that their lives would be forever intertwined. They became lifelong friends and went on to serve in the state legislature together for 14 years.
Wood died at the age of 96 at his home on Saturday, April 27. Through the years he had gone from soda server to a fountain of local pride for Hall County.
Jackson said his confidante of almost 70 years will be missed by everyone.
“He meant a lot to the community,” Jackson said. “He was a pillar of the community, especially to all of northeast Georgia.”
Wood’s life was here in Hall County, where he grew up and where he called home. His devoted service to Chicopee Baptist Church spanned more than 75 years.
Wood graduated from Lyman Hall High School in 1940. He married the late Helen Thrasher Wood in 1941. He served in World War II and was stationed in the Philippines before receiving an honorable discharge in 1946.
Wood made his mark as one of the most respected businessmen in the area when also joined Paul Turner and formed the Turner and Wood Insurance Agency in 1951.
In 1965, Wood started a run of 23 consecutive years serving the people of Hall, Forsyth and Dawson counties in the Georgia House of Representatives.
“He was especially strong at veterans affairs,” Jackson said. “We passed a lot of bills in that area.”
The Georgia War Veterans Home in Milledgeville honored Wood by naming one of its buildings after him, which is a 150-bed capacity. He also worked to help secure funding for Gainesville College, Lanier Tech and Interstate 985.
Through the years Wood also served on countless local organizations in the area.
“He was involved in anything in the area that advanced northeast Georgia and advanced Hall County,” Jackson said.