In Memoriam: Ebie Wood

Rising from agent to manager and ultimately vice president of Houlihan Lawrence Real Estate Corporation, she built a remarkable career, a roster of hundreds of satisfied clients, and a stable of grateful real estate agents, whom she managed and mentored for nearly 40 years.

The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors recently learned of the passing of Ebie Wood, a real estate veteran of nearly 40 years and longtime manager of Houlihan Lawrence’s Pound Ridge office, who passed away at the age of 84 on Nov. 14.

Editor’s Note: The following article is reprinted with permission from The Record-Review.

Ebie Wood, 84, Pound Ridge’s Memory Keeper

Elisabeth Evans Wood, fondly known to all as “Ebie,” died Tuesday, Nov. 14, of complications from myasthenia gravis. She was 84.

She was born on July 20, 1939, to Otto Hoffbauer and Jean Evans in Queens, and her family settled in Pound Ridge six years later. Despite subsequent adventures and mailing addresses in places as close as Bedford and Vista, and as far away as Puerto Rico and Germany, her heart simply never left this 23-square-mile town.

An enterprising and courageous young woman, she graduated from John Jay High School in 1957 after being voted “Most Artistic” and headed to Milwaukee-Downer College for a year of study. She then worked in a Manhattan sportswear showroom, in Europe for the Voice of Germany and later at various radio stations, including Martin Stone’s WVIP in Mount Kisco, where she was a music programmer. Eventually, she found her passion working in real estate.

Rising from agent to manager and ultimately vice president of Houlihan Lawrence Real Estate Corporation, she built a remarkable career, a roster of hundreds of satisfied clients, and a stable of grateful real estate agents, whom she managed and mentored for nearly 40 years. “Ebie’s ability to connect with everyone from the boardroom executive to the family next door in a kind and respectful way was just one of her superpowers,” recalled Susan Stillman, a longtime friend and colleague.” According to Elizabeth Nunan, president of Houlihan Lawrence, Ms. Wood’s impact on the industry extended beyond Pound Ridge. “She was a real estate legend, and her contributions to the success of the company are immeasurable.”

She welcomed her son, Evan, with her first husband, John Swayze, in 1970. Years later, while juggling single motherhood and a thriving real estate career, she found time to start One Small Step Recycling Center in Pound Ridge with fellow volunteer Fran Maiore. The program was the first of its kind in Westchester and an effort for which she was awarded the Ernest L. Conant Good Neighbor Award.

It was through One Small Step that she reconnected with Rich Wood, a second-grade classmate from her years at Pound Ridge Elementary School. Then an employee of the Pound Ridge Highway Department, Mr. Wood helped with the recycling program and, by her own account, quickly charmed her and her young son with his easygoing ways. After years of courting, she returned home from a busy day of real estate showings to find fresh-picked flowers on the table and Mr. Wood, an avid fisherman, at the sink preparing the catch of the day. She approached him and proposed, saying, “I think we should get married.” Without skipping a beat, he replied, “I thought you’d never ask.” He knew she was the catch of a lifetime.

They celebrated their 45th anniversary this past summer.

For many years, Ms. Wood volunteered for and served as president of the Pound Ridge Historical Society, where she tirelessly dreamt up new exhibitions and programs that could tell the story of Pound Ridge in new and engaging ways. After mulling over the society’s mission several years ago, she coined its new tagline: “We are the memory keepers of Pound Ridge.” But, as countless locals will attest, she was the town’s real, live memory keeper; she had a remarkable ability to recount the names, professions and avocations of nearly every soul who lived in Pound Ridge during her childhood.

“We both grew up here, 20 years apart,” said Gina Federico, whom Ms. Wood recruited to help with various PRHS projects. “She made me feel more rooted to this geographic blot than anyone. I saw so many connections that I never would have recognized without her as my guide. You’d never look at a place the same way again after she’d take you through the pages of her memories.”

She also was a rainmaker for community organizations. One call from her to local business owners would result in generous sponsorships and an influx of volunteers. “Ebie could make me do anything,” said Billy Fortin, owner of The Market at Pound Ridge Square. “I’ve known her for more than 40 years, and she’d regularly show up in my office, sit down and say, ‘This is what we’re going to do,’ and regardless of whether it was stepping up as president of the business association or dressing up like a soda jerk for an ice cream social, I’d do it. Only for her.”

If you sat down for coffee with her at The Kitchen Table or a glass of bourbon at her own kitchen table, she would enchant you for hours. “She was the ‘Queen of Storytelling,’” says Angela Jobe, who met her decades ago through the Pound Ridge Community Church. “She could talk for hours on end about her incredible life — or any subject, for that matter. But, while her life was full to the brim with countless adventures, she was just as interested in whoever was sitting on the other side of the table listening. Our Ebie had a way of finding out your sweet spot and played to it because she could find something in common with everyone.”

A music lover who founded the Westchester Bluegrass Society decades ago, she booked high-wattage performers like Bill Monroe, Del McCoury and Doc Watson to play and donated all the proceeds to the American Cancer Society. She was also a performer who could belt out the bawdiest of tunes, and a concerned American who traveled with 200 other Pound Ridgers to Washington at the age of 78 to defend women’s rights. As she marched, she linked arms, sang with friends and strangers alike, and phoned her octogenarian friends to bring them along on her journey.

She never tired of summering with Mr. Wood and their adoring Jack Russell terriers in their cottage on Martha’s Vineyard, a community in which she was equally passionate, involved and well-loved. A curious and life-long traveler, she was truly a consummate learner, a voracious reader, an award-winning needleworker, a talented gardener and a nimble hostess who could whip up a downhome meal to serve a crowd on short notice. Most of all, she was a fiercely proud mother, stepmother and grandmother to her loving family—and to countless others who felt sheltered under her wings.

She is survived by her husband and her son, Evan Swayze, her brother, Peter Ensign, and stepchildren and grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents and her sister, Mary Ensign.

She will be laid to rest at the Pound Ridge Cemetery. A celebration of her life was held Saturday, Dec. 9, at the Pound Ridge Community Church, located at 3 Pound Ridge Road, Pound Ridge. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in her memory to the Pound Ridge Community Church at or the Pound Ridge Historical Society at

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