Louis Hood Jr., 86, orchestra publicity chief

LouisHood Jr.
LouisHood Jr.
Posted: June 20, 2011

Louis Hood Jr., 86, public-relations director for the Philadelphia Orchestra for 13 years, died of heart failure Saturday, May 28, at Dunwoody Village, a retirement community in Newtown Square, where he had lived since 2003.

Mr. Hood was public-relations director for the orchestra from 1960 to 1963 and from 1972 until retiring in 1982.

In 1977, he initiated annual orchestra marathons. The weeklong events raised more than $1.6 million and doubled the membership of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association. The orchestra made a special recording for contributors, who were also offered items such as mugs decorated with portraits of famous composers.

Mr. Hood wrote and designed the orchestra's publications, established its newsletter, and produced its promotional material. He was also the orchestra's photographer, providing photo coverage of soloists, guest conductors, and foreign tours. In 1973, he accompanied the orchestra on its historic tour of China.

His tenure with the orchestra included the transition from longtime conductor Eugene Ormandy to Riccardo Muti in 1980.

Mr. Hood and his wife, Agnes "Bitsy," were active with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. He answered callers' questions on the society's plant hotline and volunteered at the society's booth at the Philadelphia Flower Show. For several years, he gave his popular "Louis vs. the Deer" presentations at the shows, offering tips on plants that deer don't like and blowing the boat horn he used to scare deer from his backyard.

He and his wife could not afford to go out on the town often when their children were growing up and began gardening together instead, their daughter Corky Hebert said. The couple's garden, Hoodlands, in Wayne, was listed in the Library of Congress and included on several garden tours.

"I think it's great to have people visit us. We're both fanatical gardeners - you can see that by looking out the window here - and when you have a garden you should share it once in a while," Mr. Hood told The Inquirer in 1987. "Besides, it gives us a fine excuse to clean up the place and buy some new drapes."

Mr. Hood's lifelong passion was singing, his daughter said. He sang at the National Cathedral at age 10 with the St. Albans School choir in Washington. Later he sang with an a cappella group at Amherst College in Massachusetts. He was a longtime member of the Suburban Squires, a men's chorale group in Ardmore, and he sang in church choirs for more than 65 years.

A native of Washington, Mr. Hood served in the Army Air Forces in the China-Burma-India theater as a belly gunner on bombing missions.

After his discharge, he earned a bachelor's degree at Amherst. He worked in advertising before becoming director of publicity for the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington. After his first three-year stint with the Philadelphia Orchestra, he was public-relations director for the Opera Society of Washington for a year and then, from 1964 until 1972, held the same position with the Cleveland Orchestra.

He and his wife married in 1952. They had met through their siblings and had their first date in Paris. She was on vacation, and he was a diplomatic courier. They later traveled the world and often returned to Paris.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Hood is survived by a son, Duncan; another daughter, Sarah Salomon; 10 grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter. His wife died in 2009. A son, Peter, died in 2002.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 25, at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 230 Pennswood Rd., Bryn Mawr.

Donations may be made to the Church of the Redeemer Choirs, 230 Pennswood Rd., Bryn Mawr, Pa. 19010.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.


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