George Rood, the legendary pool player who nearly bridged the 20th Century pool scene, died peacefully early in the morning of October 10 at the Widow’s Home in Dayton Ohio. George had been under the special care of Hospice of Dayton for his last days, but he had enjoyed visits from a number of his closest friends earlier in the day. He was just a few weeks short of his 96th birthday. His favorite room in his later years was Todd Recher’s Airway Billiards in Dayton, Ohio, and it was there that George last “ran his age” in 14.1, with a run of 126 in his late 80’s. He was a regular visitor and beloved mentor, who generously shared his cue knowledge and his sharp memory for players and days gone by.
George was born November 11, 1914 in Marietta, Ohio. He became a strong player in his teens, and he continued playing right into his 90’s. With such an extended career, George ended up competing against many of the top players from one end of the 20th Century to the other, including such players as Ralph Greenleaf, Willie Mosconi, Andrew Ponzi, James Caras, Luther Lassiter and ‘Rags’ Fitzpatrick. His stellar play earned George the respect of the very best players of the 20th Century. Mosconi reportedly described George as ‘the most natural player I have ever known.’
Although he avoided tournaments – preferring the hustler’s anonymity in the mold of fellow Ohioan legend Don Willis – he did play in many exhibition matches over the years. By his own recollection, he faced Mosconi in eleven exhibition matches and he claimed a winning record in those – although he acknowledged Willie was the better Straight Pool player. George at one time owned the poolroom in Springfield Ohio where Mosconi had earlier had his record run of 526.
George was recognized by the One Pocket Hall of Fame with the ‘Lifetime Pool in Action’ award in 2007, coincidently the same year ‘Rags’ Fitzpatrick was honored for One Pocket, which cemented the connection of mutual respect between George Rood and the Fitzpatrick family – ‘Rags’ himself had died in 1960. A 2005 interview with George is online at OnePocket.org. George was also featured in Pool & Billiards Magazine in Tom Shaw’s ‘Legends of the Road’ series a number of years ago.
George was an exceptional natural athlete, and qualified for the 1936 Olympics in diving, although he did not end up competing due to a diving injury. Besides being a great pool player, George had a stellar career as a dog trainer and handler and later as a highly regarded judge for prestigious dog shows. He was honored with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Doberman Pinscher Club of America in 2000 for his contributions to the breed. There is a tribute article and interview with George in the current issue (Sept-Oct 2010) of The Doberman Pinscher magazine.
A memorial service is scheduled for Tuesday the 19th 6-8 PM at the Newcomer Funeral Home on 4104 Needmore Road, Dayton, Ohio. Their phone number is 937-235-1000.
In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested toward The Widow’s Home, 50 South Findlay Street, Dayton, OH 45403, or The Hospice of Dayton, 324 Wilmington Avenue, Dayton, Ohio 45420 or to the Doberman Pinscher Rescue Foundation of America, 17 George Street, Framington MA 01702-8710.