Dr. Laurie Marie Wood (1985-2023)

Tue, 06/27/23
Laurie Wood Headshot

It is with profound sadness that the History Department announces that Dr. Laurie Marie Wood passed away at her home on June 4, 2023, surrounded by her family, after a journey with metastatic breast cancer. She was thirty-eight years old. She is survived by her husband, Cale Weatherly, daughter Margot, son Aaron, her parents Larry and Marianne Wood, her brother Peter (Xi Xia), her parents-in-law Jon and Tammie Weatherly, her sister-in-law Allison Weatherly, and many other family and friends.

Laurie was a Texan. She grew up in Abilene, and she earned her B.A. from Texas Tech University where she graduated summa cum laude with honors before going on to earn her Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin.

Laurie joined the Florida State University History faculty in the fall of 2014 as our expert in the history of the Atlantic World. Her research on Francophone history in comparative and global perspectives paid special attention to themes of legality, risk, and place. In 2021, her book, Archipelago of Justice: Law in France’s Early Modern Empire (Yale University Press, 2000) won the Mary Alice and Philip Boucher Book Prize from the French Colonial Historical Society for the best volume published in the preceding year examining the French colonial experience from the 16th century to 1815. Among her many honors, Laurie was a Fellow at the Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University and a Law and Society Postdoctoral Fellow at the Law School at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Laurie had a passion for research, travel, good food, and a love for her family. She was also sustained by her faith, had a tremendous sense of humor, and was always the wit.

Faced with a devastating diagnosis, Laurie was matter-of-fact about living each day to its fullest. She never stopped wanting to research, write, and teach. In what was clearly an action of mind over matter, she was able to deliver a keynote presentation at the Klopsteg Lecture at Northwestern University in October. At the time of her death, she had six additional journal articles in the works as well as a book proposal under review with Yale University Press for her second manuscript tentatively titled Flickering Fortunes: Women, Catastrophe & Capacity in the French Tropics.

Laurie served on numerous graduate committees, taking care to provide encouraging and constructive criticism on every draft. She was fond of her students, and they sought her out for her unfailing intellectual acumen. She was also committed to undergraduate education. Laurie’s imaginatively titled courses "Monsoon Empires: The Indian Ocean 800-1800" and "Pirates and Patriots in the Atlantic World" drew students into spaces with which they had little familiarity and immersed them in the history of legal, economic, and cultural exchange. Without fail, she could also be counted on to provide service to the History department, from holding Grant Writing 101 sessions for our graduate students to reading admission files on the Graduate Committee.

In the last few months, I’m not sure which story she enjoyed telling me the most — that she became part of history when her family’s Southwest flight was cancelled over Christmas or watching the Bassett hound convention at New Jersey’s Ocean City boardwalk in April. I still laugh thinking about her describing all those dogs dressed up parading down the boardwalk. Hilarious, ridiculous, and pure joy.

And I think pure joy is what will stay with me the most when I think about Laurie. It was pure joy to be Laurie’s colleague, and I know I speak for everyone to say that our hearts are broken. We are grateful for the time we had with Laurie, and we will miss her very much.

Dr. Jen Koslow, Chair

Laurie’s family has created a fund in her honor: The Dr. Laurie M. Wood Fund for the Undergraduate Study of History will provide support to undergraduate students studying in the FSU Department of History. For more information, contact Nancy Smilowitz, the college’s assistant dean of development, at (850) 294-1034 or nsmilowitz@foundation.fsu.edu.

For more on Dr. Laurie Wood’s publications and work see: https://clionaute.com/