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Novelist, C.I.A. Officer William J. Hood Dies

An Amagansett resident, Hood worked on top-secret missions during World War II.

Editor's Note: William J. Hood's step-daughter, Isabel Carmichael, prepared this obituary.

William J. Hood, a retired senior officer in the Central Intelligence Agency and a writer, died at home in Amagansett early on the morning of Jan. 28. He would have turned 93 on April 19.

During World War II, having just transferred from the Army into military intelligence, Mr. Hood volunteered for the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor to the C.I.A. He worked for a time on Ultra, a top-secret exploitation of coded German messages that the British and Americans had cracked and that the Germans thought was invulnerable, Enigma.

“Bill Hood was one of the heroes of O.S.S. and C.I.A., a major figure and leader in the clandestine services over three decades, a member of Allen Dulles’s wartime team, and a successful and inspiring leader of operations in Central Europe and at headquarters,” wrote Tom Polgar, a former colleague.

After the war, Mr. Hood remained in Europe, working for the agency in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, often as chief of station. He was one of three deputies of James Jesus Angleton, the head of counterintelligence at the agency. Before retiring in 1975 he was chief of operations for Latin America and had also worked in New York under cover at the United Nations.

Described by Kennett Love in a review of one of his spy novels as a “looming, powerfully built, agreeably sinister-looking veteran spook,” Mr. Hood became an Amagansett fixture after marrying a former O.S.S. colleague, Mary Carr Thomas, in 1976, and could often be seen in shorts sitting on Main Street benches taking the sun.

Mr. Hood was married first to another O.S.S. colleague, Cordelia Dodson, but the marriage ended in divorce.

After he retired, while he and his second wife were dividing their time among Portland, Me., New York, and Amagansett, Mr. Hood wrote “Mole,” a nonfiction story of a Soviet Army colonel who became a double agent.

He went on to write three spy novels, “Spy Wednesday,” “The Sunday Spy,” and “Cry Spy,” all of which were well received. His last book was “A Look Over My Shoulder,” a biography of Richard Helms, whom he had worked for when Helms was the director of the agency.

“William was an urbane and sharply intelligent observer with a wry, New England sense of humor,” said Sheridan Sansegundo, a friend. “He was a man of few words, but you could depend on those words being astute, perceptive, and dead on the money.”

William J. Hood was born on April 19, 1920, in Portland, Me., the only son of Bethina Heath and Walter J. Hood. He attended Deering High School and Portland Junior College and also worked as a South Portland correspondent for The Press Herald. Newspaper work was where he thought he was headed, but once he became caught up in the work he found himself doing in Europe, the die was cast.

His hobbies included photography, marksmanship, sailing, jazz, and collecting first editions. He was a member of the Cumberland Club in Portland and the Players Club in New York.

Mr. Hood enjoyed some of the perks of his work, such as being able to own Jaguars and order suits from Anderson & Sheppard, Savile Row tailors. His youth had been quite spartan and he commented to his stepdaughter, Isabel Carmichael, one evening, “When I was in a jam and didn’t know if I would get out alive, I thought, if this jam works out and I get out alive I will indulge myself in the things I would have enjoyed more as an adolescent: any book, any photographic materials, and any piece of clothing.”

Although he did not have children, he was very close to Ms. Carmichael of Springs. His stepson, Dr. David Carmichael of New York City, several nieces and a nephew, and three step-grandchildren also survive.

Mr. Hood was cremated. There will be a memorial to celebrate his life in the spring. Donations in his name can be sent to Smile Train, 41 Madison Avenue, 28th Floor, New York 10010.

Please join Patch in offering our condolences to Mr. Hood's family. Leave a comment below.

Charles Edward Frith February 13, 2013 at 01:32 PM
The CIA have contributed to a genocide all over the planet estimated to be six million or more. Those are not my words. Those are the words of the head of CIA Angola. That's how psychopath spooks are and as we are learning they think nothing of filming VIPs raping kids so they can blackmail them later. The CIA is a walking disaster.
Arthur Douglas February 24, 2013 at 10:42 PM
Shame on u Charles Edward frith...people only know the c.i.I's failures but very few know of there success....if you only knew this man is legend

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