If you were a neighbor, a friend, a co-worker or an acquaintance and didn’t have a garden, it wasn’t Sonny Wood’s fault.
The gregarious Wood, a life-long resident of Morgan County and Associate Magistrate Judge was known for selfless acts. In the spring, if you needed it, says his wife, Mary, Sonny would crank up the tractor and travel to where the iron blade would carve out a garden for the willing. “He definitely did everything for his family and his friends,” she says. “He plowed a good many gardens.”
Judge Wood, 55, died Sept. 8 at Piedmont Rockdale Hospital from COVID-19, his family says. His passing left a void in both the Morgan County law enforcement community and in the county at large.
For more than 20 years, Wood served as an associate judge to Morgan County Magistrate Judge Connie Holt. Judge Holt said after Wood’s passing that he was a man she could rely on to issue warrants, hold first appearance hearings and bond hearings, or anything else she may need.
“He was always there,” she says. Wood started his career with Judge Holt during her second of seven terms in office. He was eager to learn the sometimes complicated legal system but even more was able to recognize when a person needed help beyond what the law could provide. Holt says Wood was quick to call and point out that a person tangled in a law enforcement situation needed more than punishment. “This person needs help,” she says he would tell her.
His passing leaves a void. “It’s been really hard,” she says. “He was such a wonderful person. I’m really going to miss him.”
At Wood’s funeral service at the A.E. Carter Funeral Home Sunday, the entry way was lined with uniformed law enforcement personnel. At the visitation Saturday night, the wide net of friends and family Wood cast across the county kept streaming in well past the scheduled 8 p.m. end time.
But that was Sonny, says Pastor Terry Richardson, a life-long friend of Wood and the man who officiated his funeral. “He was always helping someone.”
Wood worked with Richardson full time at Contract Packaging, Inc. in Covington and was a supervisor with the company. On one occasion, Richardson said, after the company had trained supervisors in CPR, a woman became ill at work. Sonny rushed in.
“He saved a woman’s life at work,” Richardson said. “If it hadn’t been for Sonny, she would have died.”
Prior to working at Contract Packaging, Wood ran Wood’s Service Station on North Main Street in Madison from 1991 to 2001. During his time running his own business, his wife Mary says Wood was always ready and willing to treat a despaired traveler with a meal. Mary says if someone came into the station and was broke and looking for food, Sonny would offer them a selection of snacks he kept at the station. If the person rejected the offer, Sonny moved on. If the person reached for a bun or a pack of crackers, Sonny would stop them and tell them to go the then Ye Olde Colonial restaurant for a plate. He would then call ahead and pay for the meal or meals.
“If somebody needed food, he would give them food,” she said.
His sister Julie Phillips said Sonny’s love of community was only eclipsed by his love of family. “He was a family man,” she says. Richardson agrees. “He understood the importance of family. His family always took priority in his life.”
“He was selfless when it came to helping other people,” Phillips said.
Wood is survived by Mary, their four children Sarah Folsom, Rebekah Wood, Rachel Wood and Zach Wood. He also left two grandchildren, Daniel and Riley Folsom as well as his mother Margie Ward and a sister Julie Phillips. Wood was preceded in death by his father as well as his brother, Sandy Wood.
“He was a man of integrity in anything he did. Our family, friends and community lost a treasure,” Mary said.
“Everyone knew they could count on Sonny,” Julie said.