Consider the heartwarming story of David D. Wood’s burial site and what I learned about its planning!

I was determined this spring, between rain squalls, to find the tomb of David D. Wood, St. Stephen’s beloved and eminent organist, choirmaster, and composer who died in 1910. I knew he wasn’t buried in St. Stephen’s section of [East] Laurel Hill Cemetery. I wondered why not.

Dr. Wood, as a descendant pointed out to me, turns up in Find-a-Grave as buried in Laurel Hill’s sister cemetery across the Schuylkill River, West Laurel Hill Cemetery. From there, much was illuminated by Laurel Hill Cemetery researcher Rachel Wolgemuth. Thank you, Rachel! 

Dr. Wood is buried in a gracefully landscaped area (387 Moreland) looking especially lush this spring. The grave occupies a quiet zone behind a looming monument visible from the road.  It’s topped by a simple horizontal marker inscribed with Dr. Wood’s life dates and description as organist and composer, accompanied by the familiar line from Revelations (22:5): “And There Shall Be No Night There--” a line with additional meaning for the blind, as he was. His second wife Alice joined him in 1948.

The story of the plot purchase and  “occupation” tells us much. Dr. Wood bought the largish plot himself, in November 1900. After he died, his family moved the remains of some of his first family (first wife Rachel and two daughters who died in infancy, Harriet, and Clara Adelia) to a second marked grave beside the first.

Dr. Wood and his second wife drew both families together in death. I doubt so many related to one church staff member, no matter how distinguished, would have been permitted in St. Stephen’s section of [East] Laurel Hill Cemetery.

I hope descendants of both families and all of Dr. Wood’s fans can make the pilgrimage if you haven’t already!

—Suzanne Glover Lindsay, St. Stephen’s historian and curator