H. Graham Wood, 87, bank official, steamboat expert


As a youngster in the 1920s, H. Graham Wood of Roland Park spent countless hours sailing the Chesapeake Bay in graceful steamboats with his father, a lumber merchant.

His boyhood fascination with the imposing vessels led to a lifelong interest, including co-writing a book, "Steamboats Out of Baltimore," in 1968.

Mr. Wood, a retired senior vice president with First National Bank of Maryland, died Friday of complications from a stroke at his home in Roland Park, an area where he lived most of his life.

The Baltimore native was 87.

Mr. Wood was head of First National's trust division from 1949 to 1975.

After retiring, he served on the bank's investment review committee until 1995.

Mr. Wood, who graduated from Gilman School in 1928 and the Johns Hopkins University in 1932, started at the bank in the mid-1930s as a trust officer after graduating from University of Maryland School of Law.

"He was a very efficient officer," said Adrian McCardell, 90, a retired First National bank president. "He did an excellent job running the trust department."

Mr. Wood served for 40 years as treasurer of the Steamboat Historical Society of America until 1991.

He also was a member of the Maritime Committee at the Maryland Historical Society.

"He loved boats," said his son, Robert G. Wood, of Baltimore, adding that his father had numerous paintings, drawings and photographs of ships and the bay throughout his house.

Mr. Wood's avocation served him during World War II when he was an Army major in the Counterintelligence Corps.

His duties included searching for German submarines in the lTC Chesapeake.

In a 1994 interview with The Sun, Mr. Wood recalled a tragic steamer fire on the bay in 1924 that heightened his interest in the boats that transported goods and travelers for almost 150 years.

As an eyewitness on the steamboat Middlesex, Mr. Wood, 14 at the time, watched as the 1909 wooden side-wheeler, Three Rivers, was engulfed in flames, killing 10 passengers. The Middlesex and another steamer rescued survivors.

"The Three Rivers was really afire," he said in the Sun article. "The blaze was so bright. It was scary. People were on the boat and in the water. Smoke was everywhere."

Another steamboat aficionado, Robert H. Burgess, 85, of Newport News, Va., who wrote "Steamboats Out of Baltimore" )) with Mr. Wood, said he understood his writing partner's fascination with steamboats.

"He was very obsessed with it. It is something you grow up with," Mr. Burgess said.

Mr. Wood, who was an avid athlete, is credited with being a founder of the Roland Park Little League in 1952. The league thrives today.

"Little League was growing around the country," said his son. "He wanted us to have one for the community."

Mr. Wood played club baseball until he was 45 and touch football and softball until his 50s, his son said. During his earlier years, he played baseball and basketball at Gilman and basketball at Hopkins.

Mr. Wood was a longtime member of the Elkridge Club and the Johns Hopkins Club.

His wife of 36 years, the former Gertrude Beecher, died in 1975.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Roland Park Presbyterian Church, Roland Avenue and Upland Road.

Other survivors include his wife of 21 years, the former Florence Tottle Frey; a daughter, Virginia W. Delauney of Baltimore; two stepdaughters, Barrie Sigler of Baltimore and Sandra Hawthorne of Mendocino, Calif.; a stepson, Walter A. Frey III of Orlando, Fla.; a sister, Margaret W. Robinson of Baltimore; four grandchildren; and eight step-grandchildren.

Ruth P. Saylor, 90, registered nurse Ruth P. Saylor, a registered nurse, died Friday of breast cancer at Roland Park Place, a retirement community where she had lived since last year. She was 90.

Mrs. Saylor, who graduated from the former Maryland General 1983 PHOTO Hospital School of Nursing in 1928, often assisted her husband, Dr. Lloyd E. Saylor, in his general medicine practice in the 3900 block of Greenmount Ave. until his death in 1979.

The couple had been married for 44 years. They lived near the medical office for almost 18 years before moving to Homeland in 1952.

The former Ruth Pearce grew up on a farm in the White Hall area of northern Baltimore County. After attending a one-room school through eighth grade, she graduated from Towson High School in 1925.

Services were scheduled for 10 a.m. today at Holy Comforter Lutheran Church, 5513 York Road.

She is survived by two daughters, Mary Lee Hood of Ruxton and Lois S. Wellener of Rodgers Forge; a brother, James R. Pearce of Cockeysville; four grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 5/18/98

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