Fr. Roger Wood served as a Volunteer Jail Visitor, financial supporter, and member of and president of the Board of Directors over a span of some 30 years. As a Jail Visitor, Fr. Wood visited males incarcerated at Men’s Central Jail. The words of one of the inmates he visited exemplify how Fr. Wood made a difference. “I’m writing to thank you for those encouraging visits back in the dark days of 2004. I followed your advice. In 2005, I was one of the first inmates accepted into a college correspondence program. When I parole in 2008, I will be transferring 25 units with a 4.0 grade average! I’m also enrolled in a vocational program that is preparing me for work as an electrician’s apprentice. Thanks again for the helpful information and encouragement when I needed it most.”
Fr. Wood graduated from Stanford Law School in a class that included two Supreme Court Justices (Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor). Fr. Wood decided that his true calling was to become an Episcopalian priest and he was ordained in 1957, eventually becoming a canon. During the memorial service, the presiding priest said that Fr. Wood had told him that he wanted to be buried in the most unpretentious clothing they could find. A garment was identified but had been made in India. Fr. Wood only accepted it after he was assured that the person(s) who made it had been paid a fair wage. It says worlds about the life and the character of a very principled man.
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The Honorable John Van de Kamp served FOLA as a member of the Advisory Board and financial supporter. A former Attorney General of California, Mr. Van de Kamp was recruited to add his name to FOLA’s letterhead. At that time, circa 1972, working with inmates and their families was a pretty edgy if not suspicious activity. Having prominent names on the letterhead was intended to put forth Friends Outside as a legitimate organization especially within the legal community. I spoke with Mr. Van de Kamp earlier this year to ask for his assistance to identify a law firm that might provide pro bono legal counsel as needed. He readily responded to my call with a recommendation. 45 years later, he was still at the service of organizations in whose Missions he believed.
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Thanks to both of these two fine men for their contributions to Friends Outside in Los Angeles County and we extend our condolences to their loved ones.