David G. Wood APR, FCPRS
1919 – 2003
David G. Wood was a pioneer of public relations in Western Canada. A newspaper man, advertising executive, government public relations officer and radio broadcaster from Alberta, he was the first national president of the Canadian Public Relations Society from the West. A longtime student of Alberta politics and history, he authored a Canadian bestseller entitled The Lougheed Legacy
. He received the first honorary doctorate degree in public relations presented by Calgary’s Mount Royal College.
Born in 1919 in Raymond, Alta., his ability to handle difficult situations with exactly the right words and tone were evident in high school. In one anecdote from the 1930s, David was called on in English class to read his composition. He had not written one, so he picked up a blank sheet of paper and began to “wing it.” The students behind him who could see what he was doing started laughing, but the teacher “shushed” them and told David to continue reading his “excellent” composition.
David attended the University of Alberta and upon graduation, worked as a publisher of a weekly newspaper called the Picture Butte Progress
. He then moved to Calgary to work as a junior account advertising executive.
From 1945 to 1952, his career took him to Edmonton where he and a partner operated a struggling advertising agency. He also worked as a continuity editor for CFRN radio in Edmonton before finding his feet in public relations back in Calgary with the Mannix Group of Companies.
At the Mannix Group, David’s job was to keep the company out of the media spotlight; otherwise, his pay would be docked as punishment. Before he left to become vice-president for Western Co-operative Fertilizers Ltd., (WCFL) in 1965, David had risen to the position of public relations director for the Mannix Group of Companies.
While at the Mannix Group, David met and befriended Peter E. Lougheed, a young lawyer with a bright political future. They became lifelong friends and political allies. .
David was one of the architects of Lougheed’s famous “Now!” campaign. He wrote Progressive Conservative campaign commercials and did voice-over work on the television and radio spots.
When Lougheed was elected premier in 1971, he recruited David from the WCFL to establish the Alberta government’s Bureau of Public Affairs.
David reorganized and improved the government’s communications function. Lougheed said that he succeeded in bringing more openness to the government. “Accessibility – that was the theme we brought into office,” Lougheed said. “And Wood was a key person in the success of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party.”
After retirement from the WCFL in 1983, David continued working as a communications consultant (often pro bono) and wrote Canadian bestseller The Lougheed Legacy
Professional and Community Service
- Award of Attainment, Canadian Public Relations Society, 1973
- College of Fellows, Canadian Public Relations Society (first member from Calgary)
- Lifetime Member, Canadian Public Relations Society, Calgary (the first from the Calgary chapter)
- National President, Canadian Public Relations Society, 1969-70 (the first westerner to become a national president)
- Recipient of an honorary Bachelor of Applied Communications (Public Relations) degree from Mount Royal College, Calgary, 1999
REFLECTIONS ON DAVID
- Alberta Theatre Projects
- Calgary Foundation
- Ranchmen’s Club and the Professional Club
Loyal, witty and skillful are three words to describe David. He was a poet, storyteller, accomplished writer with a “radio voice” and a mentor to many. He is remembered as a true gentleman.
Said Peter Lougheed: “(David Wood) had that wonderful mix of honour and brilliance that you don’t often find. He had a brilliant creative ability and a great sense of humour that came to the fore.”
David was particularly pleased that so many women had chosen public relations as a profession for he believed women to be more logical and intuitive than men. However, he was a champion for all young practitioners and believed that they brought a new energy to the profession.
David and his predecessors had a good sense of history and believed in recognizing and showcasing achievement. He also had a strong respect for democracy and good government.
A generous man of his time and talents, David delighted in the surprise of his colleagues when he sported a European handbag in the 1980s and donned a beret. He also loved to save envelopes, turn them inside out and reuse them.
David and his beloved wife Maurine were married for 64 years at the time of his passing.