G. Congdon Wood, led cancer research

G. Congdon Wood, Ph.D, of Pumping Station Road, a scientist who distributed money for research into the causes and cures of cancer, died Monday, Oct. 9, at Danbury Hospital. He was 84 years old and the husband of Bari E. Wood.
For many years, Dr. Wood administered research grants and distributed clinical fellowships for the American Cancer Society at its New York City headquarters.
Dr. Wood had also been a pioneer in studying the effects of insecticides and discovered that successive generations of arachnids could become resistant to poisons.
“He was one of the first people to notice insecticide resistance,” said Bari Wood. His doctoral thesis in 1953 showed how generations of spider mites developed an immunity to insecticides. “This was before anyone knew anything about genetic resistance — when people were still using DDT,” Ms. Wood said.
Dr. Wood was born in New York City and grew up there, a son of the late Gilbert C. and Beulah Field Wood. He attended The Choate School and received his bachelor’s degree from Haverford College in 1938.
While doing graduate work at Harvard University a year later, Dr. Wood was a member of a Harvard Department of Zoology collecting expedition to Texas and Panama. During the expedition he discovered two new species, including a snake, that were subsequently named for him.
His studies at Harvard were interrupted by World War II. “He was a Quaker so he eschewed the idea of being an officer,” his wife said. “But he believed in doing his duty and joined the Army.” He became a sergeant in the transportation corps, serving in both the European and African theaters.
After the war, he resumed his studies at Cornell where he received his master’s and doctoral degrees.
Dr. Wood spent 26 years at the American Cancer Society, selecting and administering grants. “He was the one who decided their merit and whether the researchers were continuing to do what they were getting the grants for,” his wife said. He would often visit schools and other research centers to inspect the work being done by scientists.
The Woods met at the American Society where Bari Wood was working in the library. He recommended her for a job as assistant editor of the society’s publication, “CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.”
“He sort of started my writing career by recommending me for that position,” said Ms. Wood, who is the author of a half dozen novels, two of which have been made into Hollywood films.
He was a supporter of and inspiration for her writing. “He was the last of a fine American tradition,” Ms. Wood said in a 1995 interview. ”I have never felt anything from him but pride. All of my heroes have many characteristics of my husband.”
“He was a wonderful, wonderful man — a real gentleman of the old school,” she added.
Dr. Wood, who retired in 1983, had many interests including entomology, coin collecting, and conservation, and had been working on his memoirs at the time of his death. “He was a man of very wide scope,” Ms. Wood said.
Dr. Wood was a member of Sigma Xi, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and was a fellow of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. He belonged to the Union Club in New York and was active with the Nantucket Conservation Society and the South Street Seaport.
The Woods had lived in Wilton before moving to Ridgefield. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Dr. Wood had lived in Weston.
Besides his wife, his survivors include four sons: Christopher S. Wood of Woodbury, Jonathan S. Wood of Ridgewood, N.J., David F. Wood of Concord, Mass., and Andrew R. Wood of Wilmington, N.C.; and nine grandchildren.
Another son, Gilbert C. Wood III, and a sister, June Wood, died before him.
A graveside service will take place Friday at 1 p.m. at Woodlawn Cemetery, the Bronx, N.Y.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the American Cancer Society, 372 Danbury Road, Wilton CT 06897.
The Kane Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.