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Peabody Legion celebrates outgoing president

Staff writer

Myrna Wood didn’t want a fuss when she retired as Peabody American Legion and Auxiliary president recently.

She didn’t think she’d done anything particularly worthy of praise.

Others obviously disagreed.

A celebration for her Friday at the Legion was packed with people who hugged and heaped praise on her. State Legion leaders showed up. She got a cake, balloons, gifts — the works.

“The auxiliary had the idea to do this for her,” her sister, Barb Gomez said. “Everybody’s been celebrating.”

Was Gomez proud of her sister?

“Well, heck yes,” she said.

Wood seemed to be enjoying the party, even though she didn’t want one initially.

“I didn’t know we were going to have state people here. It did make me feel good. This about brought me to tears,” she said, pointing to a framed certificate for 32 years of continuous membership and a citation for 30 years of meritorious service.

Most of those three decades, she was president. But she also served as vice president, secretary, and sergeant-at-arms. She was a charter member of Canton American Legion Riders.

She did it to honor her parents.

“I was just doing what I felt like I should be doing,” Wood said. “It’s my belief that everybody needs to do something for their community.”

Vernon Lowden enlisted in the Army on March 5, 1943, and was discharged Feb. 16, 1946. Mildred Lowden applied for auxiliary membership on March 19, 1963.

“Our mom was a Rosie the Riveter who worked at Boeing,” she said.

Although Wood has stepped back, she plans to help the incoming president, Dianna Woodruff Adams, and other officers.

Wood is most proud of a golf tournament she started to raise money for the Legion’s building fund. It’s named after Larry Watts.

The front of the Legion’s building collapsed one night.

“I mean it fell off,” she said. “We were on vacation when I got the call.”

The Legion didn’t have money to fix its building, and it looked as if it might have to close.

Wood wouldn’t let that happen.

“What are we going to do?” people asked, she said.

“Well, we’re going to have to have a fundraiser,” she answered matter-of-factly.

Watts, a Legionnaire who since has died, “was a huge Chiefs fan, and I’m a huge Raiders fan. I told him, ‘If you’ll wear a Raiders cheerleader’s outfit, I will raise $500.”

That was the amount of the Legion’s insurance deductible.

“We ended up with like $2,000,” she said.

Watts held up his end of the bet, showing up at the Legion in full cheerleader garb.

“He did it. He came in with poms-poms and everything,” she recalled, laughing. “The next time I tried to make a bet with him, he said, ‘No, and not only that, hell no.’ ”

Last modified April 5, 2023

 

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