December 15, 2021

Obituaries 12/15/21

Eric Franklin Wood

Eric Franklin Wood, of Princeton, NJ, died on November 3, 2021 after a multi-year battle with cancer. He was 74.

Born in Vancouver, Canada, Eric received a BS in civil engineering at the University of British Columbia before coming to the United States where he earned his doctorate from MIT in 1974. Eric’s early research was in systems analysis as applied to hydrology, and he worked for two years in Austria at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) before joining the faculty at Princeton University in 1976, where he would spend his entire academic career.

Eric is known for his enormous impact in the field of hydrology. He contributed pioneering work to the development of hydrologic modeling, the use of satellite remote sensing data, and the creation of continental and global climate models. Eric was committed to developing better climate data for parts of the world that had been historically overlooked such as sub-Saharan Africa and South America. His impact was felt not only through his research but also through his professional service to the global scientific community and through his mentoring of more than 30 Ph.D. students and a similar number of postdocs and research staff.

Eric won 17 major awards for research scholarship, including the Robert E. Horton Medal of the American Geophysical Union, the Alfred Wegener Medal and the John Dalton Medal of the European Geosciences Union, and the Jule G. Charney Award of the American Meteorological Society. Eric was a member of the National Academy of Engineering as well as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Royal Society of Canada, the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

When not working on his research or traveling around the world to conferences or to collaborate with international colleagues, Eric was an avid fisherman, hunter, and skier. He regularly traveled back to British Columbia, Canada, for annual salmon fishing trips with friends and ski trips at Whistler and enjoyed deer hunting in upstate New York. He loved cooking, good wine, and played a mean game of cribbage.

Eric is survived by his siblings John, Elizabeth, and Peter; former spouse Katharine; children Alex and Emily; and grandchildren Clementine, August, Elliott, and Silas.

Donations in Eric’s memory may be made to the American Geophysical Union, Hydrology Section Fund. He will be missed.


Spencer Reynolds Sr.

Spencer Reynolds Sr., of Princeton, died peacefully November 28, 2021, following complications of vascular dementia. He was 83.

Spence was born in Providence, RI, but returned as an infant to the cattle ranch in Wyoming where his mother and her close friends from Providence had met and married cowboys a few years before. He grew up on ranches in Cora and Big Piney, Wyoming, then went “back east” to South Kent School in Connecticut. 

Spence attended Princeton with the Class of 1961, majoring in religion. He won a Rockefeller Fellowship which allowed him to explore a vocation for the church, at Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California. After one year in seminary, he joined the U.S. Army and spent two years as a lieutenant in military intelligence in South Korea, then he joined Chase Bank in Manhattan, first in money management and then in human resources. Human resources proved satisfying and he applied to the undergraduate admission office at Princeton, which launched a rewarding career spanning more than 50 years during which he consulted, consoled, and mentored both applicants and their families.

Today, at this time of rising awareness and celebration of human diversity, it’s interesting to note that, in the late 1960s, Spence was one of the first admission officers at Princeton charged with actively recruiting the heretofore untapped talent of minority students. Whatever their backgrounds, he derived lifelong satisfaction from the vast array of students’ accomplishments during college and after graduation.

Outside of the office, Spence carried Wyoming in his heart and on his head. He could be recognized around town and gown by his distinctive gait and cowboy hat, often uplit from under the brim by the glow of his pipe. You could see it too in the Levi’s and cowboy boots he proudly wore to his sons’ weddings, before it was fashionable to do so.

Most important to Spence personally, he was a caring and dedicated husband and father, taking great joy in the growth of his sons, and later of his grandchildren. Spence and Joy raised their family on Jefferson Road and Markham Road, and for the past two years lived together on Princeton Avenue in a cottage which they designed and built on Spencer Jr.’s and Abby’s property.

Spence is survived by his wife of 56 years, Joy, and their three sons and their families:  Spencer Jr., his wife, Abigail, and their four children, Spencer III, Sydney, Peyton, and James (Princeton); Thaddeus (San Francisco); and Bram and his wife, Rakia, and their three children, Skai, Zoe, and Bram Jr. (Princeton).

Ever practical, Spence bequeathed his remains to the Anatomical Association of Robert Wood Johnson Medical School for study and medical research.  A service of remembrance will be held at Trinity Church, Princeton (33 Mercer Street), on December 23, at 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the charity of your choice.