Barry Wood to lead state American Legion
Past Department of Michigan commanders Brett Holt (left) and Steve Striggow (right), flank new Department of Michigan Commander Barry Wood. (Department of Michigan photos)
Post 45 Historian
The men and women of Lawrence J. Bauer Post 45 of the American Legion are bursting with pride since one of their own has been elected to command of the Department of Michigan.
During the 101st annual convention at the Radisson Hotel in Kalamazoo June 30. Barry Wood, 72, overcame a challenge by Marylin Britton to win the department commander position 523-361. The win is only the second time Barry County veteran member of the post has been elected to the command position in the department’s 100-year history. Glenn Ainslie served as department commander during the 1980-81 membership year.
Strikingly, Ainslie, who passed away in 2016, was something of a mentor to Wood, maintaining that Wood was destined for the statewide command office.
Wood is a true Hastings product, having been raised here and rising in scouting to the Eagle rank. He graduated from Hastings High School in 1965 and returned to his community after his military service. He and wife, Margaret, have been married for 49 years and have two daughters, Katherine and Nicole.
He attended Kellogg Community College and Western Michigan University, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in public administration. He worked for Hastings Mutual Insurance and served on the city council for 20 years
Wood earned his right to membership in the American Legion, serving in the Vietnam and Lebanon/Grenada eras. He was in the U.S. Navy from 1965 to 1971 and in the Army from 1973 to 1989. Much of his duty was in military intelligence. He discharged as a warrant officer.
During his military career, he traveled to Germany, Korea, Japan, the Black Sea and Pacific, as well as at U.S. duty stations.
Wood has served many offices at the Lawrence J. Bauer Post since joining the Legion in 2000, including post commander, adjutant and chaplain, on lounge and charity gaming committees and, most recently, as post finance officer. Additionally, he has served offices at district and zone levels of the Department of Michigan, and in recent years has filled state Legion offices, including membership director and two years as department finance officer. Wood also has served on the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund for many years and was recently named chairman.
The 2019 Department of Michigan Convention marks the centennial year for the American Legion, the Department of Michigan as well as the Hastings Post, and commanding during this year is a special experience, Wood noted.
His wife, a daughter Nicole and her friend were in attendance through the agonizing minutes of the vote and appeared with him on the podium as he accepted the post at its conclusion.
Barry also was pleased that Sue Ainslie, Glenn Ainslie’s widow, was able to attend the convention. She had a special tribute for Wood: pinning Glenn’s Department Commander badge on his chest on the podium at his installation later Sunday afternoon.
Those who have worked with Barry over the years, at his church, at Hastings City Hall, at the Post and in higher echelons of the American Legion, are pleased for Barry Wood and have every faith he will serve the office well, and make Hastings proud.