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The Hood family: a school & community leadership dynasty

Comstock Park —  The Hood family is building a legacy of service to schools and community.

Five generations have lived within a five- to six-mile radius dating back to the 1930s. Ninth-grader Easton Hood represents the fifth generation. 

Members of the Hood family, from left: Ed Hood Jr., Easton Hood, Susan Hood and Ginger (Hood) Fowler

Easton’s father, David, a newly elected member of the district’s Board of Education, is the son of Ed Hood Jr., a retired Realtor who sold many homes in Comstock Park. For 12 years Ed also owned Comstock Park Foods, on West River Drive across from Dwight Lydell Park. He sold the business in 1996 before it closed two years later. Ed is a former school board member and community leader. 

“It’s the only place I ever lived outside of the Army,” said Ed Hood, who has fond memories of growing up in Comstock Park. He recalled hunting for rabbit and pheasant at the site of high school on Six Mile Road, where he grew up across from the Swan Inn, in a house that has since been torn down.

Ed’s mother, Cleo Bartlett, graduated from Comstock Park High School in 1940, Ed Jr. in 1964, and David Hood in 1992. 

Ed Hood said his grandfather, William Bartlett, moved from Grand Rapids to Comstock Park for a Works Progress Administration project in the 1930s to work on the construction of the junior high/high school. It is now the site of Mill Creek Middle School and administration building. 

William and Louise Bartlett, both now deceased, lived on McCrellis Street, near the school. 

Ed’s father, Ed Sr., was a small engine mechanic whom David describes as “a hardworking man who provided for his family through a strong work ethic and manual labor.” Ed Sr. died in 1998.

From left: David Hood, Ed Hood Jr. and Easton Hood, representing three of the five generations of Hoods in Comstock Park

Ed Hood Jr: Building Legacy

Ed Jr. was first appointed to the school board in 1989 and was reelected to several terms and served 12 years, including as president. Ed said he is most proud of the “Our Community Our Kids” initiative, a group led by then-superintendent, Dr. Jim Van Dyke. The initiative was dedicated to passing a bond millage to build the new high school on Six Mile Road.

Five generations:
1. William (died 1947) and Louise Bartlett (died 1964)
2. Ed Sr. and Cleo Hood (both died 1998)
3. Ed Jr. and Susan Hood
4. David and Darcy Hood
5. Easton Hood

“We did a lot of legwork to get this millage passed. Back at the time, nothing was getting passed,” Ed Jr. said. “It was such a rare feat that Comstock Park was even brought up on the floor of the state Legislature.”

The $19.3 million project (estimated cost today: $80 million) was completed in 1991. Both Ed and his son David spoke at the dedication, Ed as the school board representative and David as student body president. David’s class was the first to graduate in the new building in 1992.

David said his father has been a mentor and leader within the community to him and many others. 

Ed Hood Jr. still serves on Comstock Park Downtown Development Authority. The DDA funded the $1 million trailhead project for the White Pine Trail, and recently paid $150,000 for a new bridge as part of renovations to Dwight Lydell Park. 

He’s been involved with the Rotary Club for more than 30 years, and said many people don’t realize the Rotary built and funded the ball diamonds by Comstock Park High School.

“It’s almost like he came over on the Mayflower,” joked Bob Homan about Ed. Homan is the former supervisor and superintendent of Plainfield Township. He said he has worked with Ed for more than two decades, mainly through the DDA and Rotary. 

“(Ed) brings so much to the table. He has institutional knowledge, (is) a good guy and straight-talker, (and) a friend I’m glad to have known.” 

Homan noted that Ed was awarded a Purple Heart in a ceremony at the American Legion Post No. 47 in Comstock Park for his service in Vietnam.

Louise Bartlett on McCrellis Street. She represents the first generation of the Hood family in Comstock Park

David Hood: Points of Pride, Goals

David Hood said he really enjoyed Mill Creek Days as a kid, and events such as the annual homecoming parade down West River Drive. He said his sisters, Ginger and Cheryl, participated in many activities and the community rallied around the family when Cheryl died suddenly in the seventh grade.

He graduated from Western Michigan University in 1997 and spent six years in Chicago before moving back to Comstock Park to raise a family. As a new school board member, David Hood continues his father’s legacy of service to the school. 

At just seven square miles, the district boundaries don’t afford much growth potential, but David said it is exciting to see new homes built, squeezed in where possible. He thinks the school system has improved over the years.

“We have an excellent amount of diversity in our district, with continuous focus on curriculum and social well-being,” said David.

On a questionnaire from the Michigan Education Justice Coalition, David cited curriculum and staff development, counseling services and school leadership and support as what he views to be top spending priorities.

Christy Nowak, president of the Comstock Park Board of Education and a board member for 13 years, said that as a Comstock Park native, David will be someone board members can turn to.

“There’s people from the community supporting him,” she said. “He has a knowledge of the community and what people are looking for in their school year.”

Ed Jr. is unabashedly proud of his son. “He’s a good young man. The people in this community will be very happy with him.”

Easton Hood

The ninth-grader said he’s not sure if he will return to Comstock Park after college. 

“Of course the dream is to play professional sports, but if that doesn’t’ work out I would like to still stay in the area and be a sports physician or along that line.”

He said some people around town see his last name and ask, “Hey, are you Eddie’s grandson?” 

“It’s crazy that I am the fifth generation in Comstock Park,” Easton said.  “Maybe someday there will be a sixth.”

West River Drive in Comstock Park in the 1920s
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Karen Gentry
Karen Gentry covers Comstock Park. She is from Evansville, Indiana and St. Joseph, Mich. and a graduate of Lake Michigan Catholic High School and Central Michigan University. She moved to the Grand Rapids area in the mid-1980s and has been a resident of Comstock Park since 2002. She understands the complexity, rewards and challenges of the teaching profession as she has five years of experience as a high school teacher at River Valley High School in Three Oaks, Mich. and St. Stephen High School in Saginaw. As a reporter for the Advance Newspapers and Mlive she covered Sparta, Kent City and Northview schools. She is happy to be reunited with some of her journalism colleagues and writing about Comstock Park Public Schools for the School News Network. Read Karen's full bio

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