Franklin J. Wood, 78, sailing school founder


Franklin J. Wood, founder of the Annapolis Sailing School and the United States Sailboat Show, died of a stroke Feb. 19 at his home in the Eastport section of Annapolis. He was 78.

Mr. Wood, who was known as Jerry, was born and raised in Mamaroneck, N.Y., where he learned sailing as a child growing up on Long Island Sound.

After serving as an Army photographic technician in the Pacific during World War II, he earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia in 1948.

Moving to Annapolis, he worked in the family's doll business, Richwood Toys, until its closing in 1958.

A lifelong sailor, he then opened a small business renting boats to tourists, and in 1959 established the Annapolis Sailing School -- now the nation's oldest and largest sailing school.

In 1970, he expanded his marine interests when he and Peter J. Carroll founded the United States Sailboat Show at Annapolis City Dock. In 1973, the partners added the United States Power Boat Show.

Since purchasing Mr. Carroll's interest in 1976, Mr. Wood had owned the two events.

"These two shows have grown to become the most prestigious events of their kind in the industry. The combination of the sailing school and the sailboat show have been a major factor in establishing Annapolis as the nation's sailing capital," said Richard O. Franke, general manager of the sailing school.

He also was an enthusiastic supporter of the Brendan Project, a therapeutic sailing program for learning-disabled youths, and also conducted an instructional sailing program for hearing-impaired Gallaudet University students. He directed the sailing program for the Annapolis Recreation Department.

Mr. Wood was an avid photographer, and his panoramic aerial photographs of boat shows were highly sought by collectors.

He also supported the photography program in Anne Arundel County public schools with donations of equipment and materials.

Mr. Wood, who also raised collies, was a member of the Collie Club of America. He was also a member of several camera clubs and the Annapolis Yacht Club.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. March 6 at John M. Taylor Funeral Home, 147 Duke of Gloucester St., Annapolis.

Mr. Wood is survived by his wife of 34 years, the former Kathryn Graf.

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