Minnie Iverson Wood
1908 - 2008
Minnie Iverson Wood was a talented singer and choral conductor who taught for more than 75 years at all levels in the Seventh-day Adventist school system in the U.S. and in five other countries. She was known for her presentations of major choral works and participation in numerous significant church events, including youth congresses in the 1950s and the 1958 General Conference Session.
Minnie was born in Falmouth, Maine, on May 26, 1908, one of six children and the youngest daughter of Amanda Rosa Groth and Iver Hansen Iverson, both immigrants from Germany. She graduated from Pine Tree Academy in 1924 and four years later graduated from Washington Missionary College, now Washington Adventist University, with a B.A. degree in languages and voice. She then completed a master's degree in music from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. and would later do graduate study at Indiana and Michigan State universities and the University of Michigan.
In the decade following her graduation from WMC, she taught in Latvia for two years, and, following her marriage to Wilton H. Wood, an educator, in 1932, they taught at Indiana Academy for two years and then traveled as missionaries to China, where they served at Far Eastern Academy in Shanghai and later in Hong Kong.
Upon their return in 1940, having fled China before World War II started, she assisted George Greer in the music program at WMC and, when he left in 1943, assumed direction of the college choirs. Three years later the Woods left for six more years of mission service in China; Baltic Union Seminary in Riga, Latvia; Maylayan Seminary in Singapore; and Philippine Union College.
On their return in 1952 she resumed direction of the choirs at WMC for four more years. During this time the choir was noted for its high-performance standards, had a weekly Sunday program on NBC radio, and frequently sang at noteworthy events in the Washington area, including singing annually at the memorial service at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington, Virginia. She sang in the presence of Harry S. Truman and her choir performed in the presence of U.S. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.
In 1956 the Woods accepted positions at Andrews University, where he chaired the education department and she directed the choirs until 1959 and then taught voice for the next thirteen years. When her husband retired in 1972, they moved to Loma Linda, California, where she continued to teach private lessons in voice and piano into her nineties, typically having more than twenty voice and piano students.
In May 2003, when Minnie Iverson Wood celebrated her 95th birthday, she conducted a choir of her former students singing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah. The performance was part of a two-hour vesper program held in the Loma Linda University Church to honor her service as a musician in the church. At that time, numerous tributes and performances by former students from every decade in which she had taught, from the 1920's to the present, paid tribute to her inspiring teaching and musical leadership.
Earlier, in February, Wood had been awarded the Andrews University President's Medallion by President Niels-Erik Andreason. The medallion, one of the highest awards given at AU, honored both her lifetime accomplishments and the contribution in music she had made at the university. Two years earlier, in 2001, the Association of Adventist Women had presented her with its Lifetime Achievement Award. She was cited at that time for her teaching and mission service.
She was teaching lessons until a week before her death from a stroke on February 28, 2008, at age 99, two months before her 100th birthday.
Sources: 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Ancestry.com; Minnie Iverson Wood interview with Dan Shultz, October 2003 and letter from her at that time with numerous clippings; Minnie Iverson obituary, Andrews University Focus, Spring 2008, 34; "Wood receives President's Medallion," Andrews University Focus, Spring 2003; "Missionary Sailings," The Advent Review, December 6, 1934, 24; Carolyn Lacy, "Minnie Iverson Wood, May 26, 2008-February 28, 2008," Adventist Woman, Spring 2008, 13; "Emmanuel Missionary College," Staff Changes Announced, Lake Union Herald, May 29, 1956, 8; Elizabeth Macayan, "Sharing a Love of Music, Teacher Celebrates Her 95th Birthday," The Sun, San Bernardino County, May 26, 2003, B4, 1; "At 95, she's still teaching music," Redlands Daily Facts, June 3, 2003, A6; "AAW honors Eight Women" Adventist Review, September 6, 2001, 43; newspaper clippings and copied speeches provided by Wood in 2003: Larry Kidder (Loma Linda University) biographical sketch, no date, likely read at her 95th birthday celebration; Descriptor for the Wilton and Minnie Iverson Wood Endowment Fund listing at Columbia Union College, now Washington Adventist University; Voice, piano teacher celebrated at 95, The Press-Enterprise, unknown date; "Music teacher will receive service award" (Music Teachers' Association of California), unknown date and paper.