The Kenwood Press
Obituaries: 04/15/2017

Rosemary Wood, Beltane Ranch matriarch

Rosemary Miller Wood passed away, surrounded by her family, at Beltane Ranch in Glen Ellen on March 17, 2017. Rosemary was born on April 4, 1924, to Douglas Delmar Miller and Geneva McCormick Miller. In 1936 she moved with her family from Hillsborough, California, to Beltane Ranch to help her aunt and uncle, Effia and Ralph Heins, raise turkeys, sheep and cattle. Rosemary became the first girl to study drafting at Sonoma Valley High. She attended Stevens College for one year then returned to put her drafting skills to work at Fort Mason in San Francisco during World War II. There she met Captain Harlington Wood from Springfield, Illinois. They were married in Grace Cathedral in San Francisco in 1946 and moved to Springfield, Illinois. In 1968 a move to Waterford, Virginia, expanded her love of architecture and historic preservation. In 1972 she returned to California to be near her elderly aunt and began restoration of the ranch. She renovated the 1892 ranch house one room at a time, doing much of the work herself. Shortly after opening the first rooms as a bed and breakfast, she was honored to have Julia Child as a guest while Child was in the valley visiting MFK Fisher.

Rosemary was a pioneer in the replanting of olives for oil in Sonoma County, and a founding member of the Olive Press in Glen Ellen. She was instrumental in replanting and growing the ranch’s vineyards and was a student of the viticultural history of the valley.

Rosemary enjoyed many years of retirement in Mendocino, making new friends, enjoying the coast and pursuing her artistic interests. She was a talented artist, working primarily in pen and ink, charcoal and print making. The journals from her many trips, full of her sketches and personal observations, are family treasures. She maintained a lifelong love of art, architecture, historic preservation, environmental protection and sustainable farming.

Rosemary devoted her life to her beloved ranch and her family. A woman of vision and purpose, she lives on as an inspiration to many. Rosemary is survived by her daughter Alexa Wood, grandchildren Lauren Benward-Krause (Steven) and Alex Benward, great-grandchildren Carlos Harlington Krause and Drake Alexander Krause, and many nieces and nephews. A celebration of her life will be held on May 7. Please contact the family at for further information.

In lieu of flowers, consider donations to the Valley of the Moon Natural History Association (DBA Jack London Park Partners), Teen Services Sonoma, or the Mendocino Area Parks Association Spring Ranch Barns Fund.