Delaware Republicans are mourning the loss of a man who helped the party thrive in 2012. Sussex County Republican Committee Chairman Jerry Wood died Dec. 28 at his home in Frankford.
Wood announced Dec. 20 he would not seek a second term as chairman due to health reasons. In a press release, Wood said he was proud to have served his fellow Republicans and thanked those he worked with in the 2012 election cycle.
Wood had been a volunteer and election district chairman for the Republican Party since 2008. He was elected chairman of the Sussex County Republican Committee Feb. 13, 2012, after former Chairman Glen Urquhart resigned the post to run for the Delaware Senate.
During his tenure, the Republican Party dominated Sussex County races, securing two new legislative seats – Senate District 6 and Representative District 20, which moved to Sussex from New Castle County after redistricting in 2011.
The party also faced controversy after Senate District 19 Republican candidate Eric Bodenweiser withdrew from the race Oct. 17, days before he was charged with more than 100 felony sex crimes involving a child.
Wood filed a certificate of nomination with Sussex County Board of Elections Oct. 18, to put Republican Brian Pettyjohn on the ballot. Pettyjohn, a former mayor of Georgetown, was a write-in candidate in the race.
Delaware Elections Commissioner Elaine Manlove refused to replace Bodenweiser’s name with Pettyjohn’s, and Republicans took the battle to court.
On Oct. 30, one week before Election Day, Delaware Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Sussex County Republican Party, and Pettyjohn ultimately won the race for SD 19.
Republicans now hold four of Sussex County’s five Senate seats and seven of the county’s nine Representative seats.
Wood also served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in August. In a Dec. 28 statement Delaware Republican Party Chairman John Sigler said Wood left a mark on the party at a local, state and national level. “His commitment to strengthening the party's grassroots network ensured that new faces and talents were brought to into the party and effectively utilized in advancing the cause we all hold so dear,” Sigler wrote.
“I will always remember Jerry's tagline at the bottom of each of his emails: ‘It is a great day in America.’ Jerry is right. Though, today it is a sad day in Delaware,” Sigler said.
Wood was born Sept. 4, 1939, in Clinton County, Ind. He graduated from American University in Washington, D.C.
Wood spent much of his career working for the U.S. Department of Defense. He also owned a real estate investment company where he purchased and rehabilitated houses in Washington, D.C., and the surrounding area. He retired in 1993 and moved to Delaware.
Wood will be buried beside his late wife at the Garden of Remembrance Cemetery in Clarksville, Md. He is survived by his brothers Delbert and Richard and by his son, Kent, and four grandchildren.
In a Dec. 28 statement, 9-12 Delaware Patriots Executive Director Theresa Garcia said Wood had been an active member of Sussex County 9-12 Patriots since the group formed in May 2010.
“Jerry Wood was a true Patriot,” Garcia wrote. “He attended most of the meetings in Sussex County and many in Kent County, always ready with a smiling face and an encouraging word.”
“Jerry Wood was a friend and mentor to many. He will be greatly missed,” she said.