Leighton Phelps Wood


image of Leighton Phelps Wood

Leighton Phelps Wood

Leighton Phelps Wood, a distinguished newspaper publisher, intrepid world traveler, competitive ski racer, and a gregarious gentleman, passed away peacefully on June 2nd at Parkshore Senior Living Community in Seattle. A beloved father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, Leighton lived a fulfilling and remarkable life. He was 93.

Leighton was born in Seattle on April 8, 1930, to parents Leighton and Margaret Wood. Raised on Capitol Hill, his entrepreneurial spirit was evident early on when he took up a newspaper route as a young boy. He attended Lakeside and Garfield for high school before proceeding to the University of Washington. There, he joined the Delta Kappa Epsilon (Deke) fraternity and the University Ski Racing Team, earning the nickname “Lightning” due to his remarkable speed.

Leighton’s industrious nature led him to various jobs during his college years, from driving a Seattle Cab to joining the snow grooming crew in Sun Valley, Idaho. In the summers, he dedicated his time to harvesting wheat on his grandmother’s farm in Pendleton, Oregon. Later, he held roles at the Boeing Company and as a salesman for the U.S. Rubber Company.

In 1955, Leighton married Susan Scripps, also a Seattle native. After their wedding, he joined Scripps League Newspapers, Susan’s family newspaper company, as an advertising salesman. Over the next few years, they lived in several locations in the Western U.S. as Leighton honed his skills and expertise in the newspaper publishing business. In 1964, after the Skagit Valley Herald and Anacortes American joined the Scripps League, Leighton, alongside Susan and their three children (with one more on the way), relocated to Mount Vernon. He took on the role of Publisher, a position he held for two decades before becoming Chairman of the Board, allowing his son, Stedem, to oversee the daily operations.

A lifelong member of the Bainbridge Island community, Leighton often shared fond memories of his youth, including piloting a Mosquito Fleet ship from Yeomalt to Seattle for school – a tradition dating back to his paternal grandmother Letta Leighton Wood’s property acquisition on Yeomalt Point in 1905.

Leighton’s zest for life extended beyond work. A self-proclaimed foodie and travel enthusiast, he joined the Chaîne des Rotisseurs, an international fine dining club. He was also a member of the Ancient Skiers, Swinomish Yacht Club, Mount Vernon Rotary and Elks Clubs, and several Seattle-based clubs, including the Rainier Club, Men’s University Club, and the Sunset Club, a women’s Club, where he was named an honorary member after the passing of his wife, Susan, in 2015, after 60 years of marriage.

Leighton was most proud of his family, and is survived by his brother and sister-in-law, Gilbert and Caryn Wood; his four children, Stedem Wood, Marnie Roozen, Laura Wood, and Heather Berkley (Jon), by his 8 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren and his last prized bottle of Tabasco sauce.

The Wood family wishes to extend their heartfelt thanks to the Parkshore staff for their unwavering care and support over the last eight years, and especially during these past few months. Special thanks also go to Leighton’s dear friend, Betty McDougall.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Wood Family Fund at the Skagit Foundation in Mount Vernon or the Employee Fund at Parkshore. A Celebration of Life, will be held at The Rainier Club, 820 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104 August 10, 2023, 5pm.

Leighton’s passing leaves a profound void, but his extraordinary life and enduring spirit will forever be cherished.

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