Gary Crusader staff report
His sister wrote about history, but Reverend Nicholas Hood II spent his life making it.
Hood, the 92-year-old “baby boomer” brother of Gary historian Darathula Hood (Dolly) Millender, passed away on April 10 in a Detroit hospital.
At a memorial service April 16 at the Plymouth UCC Church, which Hood founded, political leaders representing the City of Detroit, the State of Michigan and the hallowed halls of Congress celebrated the life and legacy of a civil rights icon who served the Detroit community as a political and religious leader for several decades.
Like his sister’s memorial service, hundreds of well wishers and supporters turned out to say goodbye, including Congressman John Conyers. As the U.S. Representative for Michigan’s 13th congressional district, Conyers is currently the longest serving politician who has served on Capitol Hill for 51 years.
One prominent leader, Ambassador Andrew Young, eulogized his closest friend in a moving tribute that was the highlight of the service. It was also an ironic moment since many in Gary fondly remember Hood for the eulogy he gave at the funeral of his sister Dolly, the beloved Gary historian who died last December.
According to his biography on his church website, Hood served on the Detroit City Council for 28 years before retiring in 1993. After he was elected to the council in 1965, Hood established a reputation as a “peoples’ servant.” He helped open doors for thousands of Blacks seeking jobs in Detroit. Hood was also instrumental in creating quality public housing in the city. Because of Hood’s efforts, thousands of disabled children have a center and many seniors have quality housing.
Hood lived to see his daughter-in-law, Denise Page Hood, be named chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. His son, Nicholas Hood III, succeeded him as current pastor of UCC Church.
In a statement April 11, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Hood was a “dedicated servant of his God and of his city and was a true icon of social justice.
Reverend Hood was an original signer for the creation of the 59-year-old Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), whose first president was the Reverend Dry, Martin Luther King Jr.
Like his sister, Hood was a native Hoosier. He was born in Terre Haute to a prominent family of community leaders and achievers. Following the footsteps of his father and sister, Hood graduated from Purdue/Lafayette. He later graduated from Yale Divinity School in 1949.
Educators Ruth Hood Battle and Gladys Hood Bufkin Johnson were his older sisters, and his brother Ernest Hood, Sr. moved to Gary in his later years to live with relatives. In 2014, the Hood family received the “Legacy Award” from Indiana State University.
Nicholas Hood III gave a moving tribute to his father with examples of how his father taught him to love.
This is what he said, “A little later today we will bury my father. The first traces of dawn are peeking through the shadows of night. As I sit thinking about my dad, I would have to say that one of the things I learned from him by example was the importance of living life with “Compartments of Love.” What I mean by this is learning to appreciate and celebrate the importance of each individual human being that you come in contact. It means to focus on each individual, listen to each person, respond to each person, love each person in front of me and treat them like they are the most special, important, significant person in the world.”
“At the family visitation that was held at my church yesterday, there were so many persons who shared stories of how my dad helped them: the firefighter who said my dad helped him to advance; a small business person; men and women who worked in the Cyprian Center, a mental health non-profit founded by my father; and many others.”
When I think of how my dad treated each of the people in our family and extended family, the same is true. He loved each of us individually and collectively.”