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The Voice of a Warrior Poet
Calvin Wayne Atwood was born in Bellows Falls, Vt. on April 12, 1924. At the start of WWII he left high school early to work in a defense plant. Cal was inducted into the Marine Corps in February 1943. During boot camp at Parris Island, SC, he volunteered as a paratrooper. Upon completion of training, he was sent to Camp Tarawa, Hawaii where he joined the newly formed “Fighting Fifth” Division. He arrived on Iwo Jima during the naval bombardment of the island in February of 1945. Cal spend 3 weeks in Iwo Jima fighting alongside his fellow Marines before being wounded and sent back to Hawaii. His unit experienced 95 percent casualties after taking more terrain than any other company on Iwo Jima.
Upon leaving the service Calvin completed high school and earned degrees from Lawrence University and Columbia University, where he was a Baker Scholar. He taught and worked in school administration at Sidwell Friends inWashington, D.C., at Robert College in Istanbul, Turkey, at the Pembroke Hill School in Kansas City, Mo., at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga.
Cal’s passions included his wife, Carol Ann, his children, golf, poetry and history. Not only did Cal and Carol Ann provide many years of volunteer service to the Amelia Island Museum of History, each served as Chair of the Board of Trustees. Cal combined his passion for golf with fundraising activities and helped create and promote two annual golf tournaments for the museum and the Marine Corps League’s Toys-for-Tots. These tournaments remain as major fund raisers for their respective organizations.
Cal authored two poetry books, A Squadron of Roses and The Isle of You. His poems have appeared in publications including Leatherneck Magazine, The New York Times, Paris Review, International Poetry Review, Southern Poetry Review and The Fernandina Beach News-Leader. He served as president of the North Carolina Poetry Society and the Georgia State Poetry Society, and was a Poet-in-Residence for the North Carolina Arts Council.
Cal was recognized by Hands On Jacksonville, an organization that recognizes outstanding volunteers in the Jacksonville area, with a Heart of Gold Award. A fellowship at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School is named in his honor. Cal died on May 15, 2018, age 94. He is survived by his wife, four remaining children, 16 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren. Cal felt incredibly privileged to be a Marine and to have served his country.