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Rawson Lyman Wood

Rawson Lyman Wood of Boston and Center Harbor, NH, died in Ft. Myers, FL, on July 4, 2012.

Born in New York on September 16, 1908, he was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Rawson Lyman Wood (Teresa Gunn Schwab). The Woods are descended from Edward Rawson, who came to New England in 1636 and served as the first Secretary of the Massachusetts Colony, from 1650 to 1686. 

Rawson graduated from Harvard in 1930, but withdrew from Harvard Law School after his father died in the financial turmoil of the Depression, and entered J.R. Wood & Sons (later named ArtCarved Inc.), the jewelry firm founded in 1850 by his grandfather John R. Wood. The oldest jewelry firm in the United States, it was for decades the largest ring manufacturer in the world. Rawson was president and then chairman of ArtCarved Inc., and a director of Lenox Inc. after it purchased ArtCarved.

He founded Arwood Corporation as part of the jewelry business, patenting the “lost wax process” later used to make precision industrial castings for metal parts with complex shapes and close tolerances, such as bomb sights. For his achievement in equipment production during World War II, the firm received the Army-Navy “E” Award. Later production included complex parts for consumer goods and space programs. He served as president and chairman of Arwood and as director after its merger with Interlake Corp.

Appointed to Industry Committee No. 17 of the US Department of Labor, he was a United States delegate to the 1964 Conference on Investment in India and to the 1967 Conference on Standards and Norms in Moscow. In addition to his seminal book, Investment Castings for Engineers (NY:  Reinhold Pub., 1952), he authored articles that were published in many national and international journals. Committed to ethical business management, Rawson served as both director and president of the Council of Profit-Sharing Industries and as trustee of the Profit Sharing Research Institute.

An active Catholic layman, Rawson was a founder of the Catholic Interracial Council of New York, Africa Service Institute, and the Interracial Council of Long Island, and longtime chairman of the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice, the Nassau County Commission on Human Rights, and the North Hempstead Housing Authority. He served on the advisory council of the Columbia University School of Social Work and was vice-president of the New York Urban League. For his deep commitment to social and interracial justice, Pope Paul VI appointed him an American delegate to the Third Roman Catholic World Congress of the Lay Apostolate in Rome in 1967. In recognition of his contributions to human rights and racial equality, he received honorary degrees from Xavier University, St. John’s University, and Seton Hall University.

An ardent ornithologist, Rawson helped found the Lyman Langdon Audubon Society, now known as the North Shore Audubon Society, on Long Island, NY, served on the boards of the Linnaean Society, the American Ornithologists’ Union, and the New Hampshire Audubon Society, and twice as director of the National Audubon Society. But his crowning achievement was rescuing the common loon from the verge of extinction. He founded the Loon Preservation Committee, the North American Loon Fund and the New Hampshire Lakes Region Conservation Trust, and worked closely with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Tufts University to promote loon research and produce recordings of the haunting primal loon call which is common in movies with wilderness scenes. The 1981 movie On Golden Pond, starring Henry and Jane Fonda and Katherine Hepburn, was filmed on Rawson’s beloved Squam Lake in New Hampshire. The loon was declared the Class Bird for the 55th reunion of his Harvard class of 1930. He was the first recipient of the Loon Preservation Committee’s Spirit of the Loon Award, presented in 2008.

His untiring efforts in support of the New Hampshire Environmental Coalition and Foundation, the New Hampshire Environmental Law Council, the Society for the Preservation of New Hampshire Forests, the Center Harbor Conservation Commission, the Lakes Region Planning Commission, the Forum for the Future of New Hampshire, the Merrimack Valley Flood Control Commission, New Hampshire Governor’s Advisory Council on Growth, and as founder of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, earned him the Granite State Award, the Tudor Richards Award, and the B. Kimball Ayers Award.

After retiring from business, Rawson moved to Boston, closer to his summer home on Squam Lake. His involvement and philanthropy expanded from social justice and the environment to the creative arts. Named Governor Emeritus of Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society, he served on the boards of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Harvard Musical Association, Marlboro Music Festival, New Hampshire Music Festival, Boston Ballet, and Boston Symphony.

At the time of his death one of Harvard’s oldest living graduates, Rawson had been married for 70 years to the former Elizabeth Frances Ford, who died in 2000. They had five children, 12 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren, which they considered “our most successful career.”  Survivors include his wife, the former Marcia Kimball; daughters Mrs. Walter G. Langlois (Sheila Wood) of Laramie, WY, Mrs. Gunther P. Barth (Ellen R. Wood) of Berkeley, CA, and Mrs. Carolyn E. Wood (Moorhead—Carolyn F. Wood) of Clyde Hill, WA; sons R. Lyman Wood of Hampden, MA, and Hilary “Keith” F. Wood of Aptos, CA.

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