It looks like last week, local civic activist and advocate for the handicapped, Denny Wood, passed away. Chuck Rabin from the Herald wrote a nice piece about him...
Denny Wood, crusader for the disabled, dead at 68By Charles Rabin
Denny Wood, who spent decades fighting for the rights of the disabled after losing the use of his legs in an Ohio silo accident almost a half-century ago, was found dead of natural causes last week in the Palmetto Bay T-shirt shop where he lived, of an apparent heart attack.He was found dead on a bed in the back room of a T-shirt shop he owned at 9855 E. Fern St., by a customer. Wood was 68.
Wood made a name for himself as an irascible defender of the disabled, whether it was blocking entrances that lacked disabled ramps while in his wheelchair, or several failed runs for public office.
“He had been pretty sick and hospitalized recently with heart trouble,” said Paul Kruger, a friend of Wood’s who lives in Interlachen, Fla., near Gainesville. “A lot of people misunderstood Denny. He kind of had a chip on his shoulder, but if you knew him, he had a really big heart.”
Wood was every bit a loner, so much so that more than a week after his Oct. 22 death, police continue to have trouble tracking down next of kin. In search of family members, Miami-Dade police have posted messages on a couple of Wood’s websites asking the public to call them with information.
In the meantime, Wood’s body remains in the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s Office. It will stay there until all leads are exhausted, at which time the county will cremate the body and bury him in the West Miami-Dade public cemetery.
Cantankerous and pesky, Wood didn’t believe in limits. His most recent attempt at public office was an August run for Miami-Dade mayor, where he finished well off the pace. But Kruger said Wood had “no expectation” of winning, and that “it was just a way to get his platform for the disabled heard.”
Wood was so far down the totem pole that he wasn’t invited to the table during several of the mayoral debates. Still, he’d wheel about outside the building complaining of structures that didn’t meet American With Disabilities Act requirements to those who would — and wouldn’t — listen.
Twice he has run for state legislative seats and lost. A popular face in Tallahassee for legislative sessions, Wood claimed to be instrumental in passing more than 20 Florida legislative bills.
Yet he had a darker side: He’d been arrested at least eight times since 1977, twice for writing bad checks. In two other instances he was arrested for pulling guns on people during disputes. Each time he received probation.
Over the years he’s railed against the South Dade Busway, and how difficult it was to cross U.S. 1. He also fought a funeral home on U.S. 1 over perceived violations of the ADA.
A profile on Wood that ran in The Miami Herald almost 14 years ago explained how he lost the use of both legs in a fall from atop a grain silo in Ohio in 1964 while he was attending Mennonite College. He came to Miami in 1969 after becoming a certified scuba diver.
At the time of The Herald story Wood had been dating a woman named Marcene Rigsby for five years. She spent time working with Wood in his T-shirt shop, and often accompanied him on missions up and down U.S. 1 in search of businesses not in compliance with ADA requirements. The two later separated. Thursday she chose not to comment on Wood’s death.
Police would like anyone with information, especially relating to Wood’s next of kin, to contact them at 305-471-2400.
I have no idea why Mr Rabin would need to go into Mr. Wood's run ins with the law in his article. Those of you who've followed our blog over the last few years know all to well of the beefs we've had with Mr. Rabin, I think there are other aspects of Mr. Wood's life that are worth mentioning. For instance, after becoming papraplegic as a result of his fall from the silo, Mr. Wood moved down to Florida and became the first paraplegic to be a certified SCUBA diver. Besides his achievements in diving, Mr. Wood went on to fight tirelessly for the handicapped in Tallahasse, during his first legislative session he managed to get no fewer than 11 bills passed.
Over the last year or so, Mr. Wood has left several comments on our blog and has also made several posts in our defense whenever a local media outlet would cover our stories. The real problem now is that Mr. Wood seems to have no next of kin and as the Herald article states, if no one comes forward, his body will be cremated and buried by the county. If any of our followers know anything about Mr. Wood or his family, please contact Detective Raphael at the Miami Dade Police Department 305-471-2214 or his Mr. Wood's friends at 386-916-5600.
Rest in peace Mr. Wood, it was a pleasure knowing you.