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Our Laguna: Woman's Club honors Woman of the Year

Anne Wood's answering machine message ends with "Do something nice for someone." She lives by those words.

A day rarely goes by that Wood isn't doing something nice for someone — often more-than-one someone. Wood is the consummate worker bee. Her business card reads "Volunteer."

Wood's mostly unsung contributions to the community were recognized at a luncheon June 1 when the Laguna Beach Woman's Club honored her as the 2012 Woman of the Year.

"Too often, people who spend most of their lives helping others are not given the recognition due them," said Sande St. John, who knows a bit about volunteering. "That is why it is so heartening to see Anne Wood truly appreciated by those who know her and love her."

"So what has she done for the community since moving to Laguna in 1969?"

"She drives around in that silly little car of hers looking for fires. She is a member of the Laguna Beach Exchange Club and hasn't missed a Memorial Day or Labor Day Pancake Breakfast since the firefighters started flipping flapjacks."

"When no one else shows up, she is there."

"She is a member of the Exchange Club, which meets weekly."

And what else?

Wood volunteered with the Chamber of Commerce for 15 years, often daily. She answered the phone, greeted visitors and updated the chamber's annual Community Directory, of great help to Bobbi Cox, founder of the Leadership Luncheon.

"I would go through her list to come up with names for invitations to the luncheon," Cox said. Wood has served on the Patriot's Day Parade Committee for more than a decade — waving entries out of the staging area at the Laguna Beach Unified School District parking lot.

She worked tirelessly in the aftermath of the 1993 fire, teaming up with Marsha Bode, the 2004 Woman of the Year.

"We got a (Federal Emergency Management Agency) grant to help folks and we opened a center," Bode said. "Anne's was the first face people saw. She always had a smile and that made a big difference to people going through a stressful time. People remembered that."

Wood continued to volunteer her time when the center evolved into the Laguna Beach Relief and Resource Center.

"She is super loyal, always funny and always willing to help," Bode said.

Wood has given her heart and soul, not to mention time, to the Neighborhood Congregational Church.

At the luncheon, the Rev. B. J. Beu said Wood is the kind of person who thinks beyond her own needs to the needs of others. He gave thanks for the work Wood has done, the people she has touched as a volunteer, the students she has inspired as a teacher and the causes she has championed.

"Anne knows how to make friends and how to keep friends," said Mary LaRusso, a parishioner and a friend for 27 years.

Wood was a friend to the Laguna Playhouse for so long the management made her an honorary lifetime member. She served in virtually every capacity backstage and even made a few appearances on stage.

"Anne has volunteered with every performing arts group in this city," said Mistress of Ceremonies Pat Kollenda, who should know — she belongs to or has performed with most of them.

Wood has worked backstage or collected tickets at the front door for No Square Theatre, "Lagunatics" and Gallimaufry.

She has judged high school performances and performers for the M.A.C.Y. Awards, founded by Lee and the late John Childress. Lee Childress could not attend the Woman's Club luncheon, but arranged to have 2012 M.A.C.Y. Male Actor of the Year Elan "E.J." Kramer make a surprise appearance at the luncheon. He serenaded Wood with "It Takes Two," from the award-winning Laguna Beach High School production of "Into the Woods," accompanied by Roxanna Ward.

"Normally this is a duet, but we made it special for you," Kramer said.

Wood has not limited herself to the performing arts.

She is a past president of Delta Kappa Gamma, a national society that recognizes and honors outstanding teachers.

Wood taught for four decades, in her hometown of Sacramento, in a San Francisco Bay Area inner-city school, in France and Germany as a civilian with theU.S. Armyand in Anaheim, retiring in 1993.

Wood is also a member of Chapman University Town and Gown, a support group of professors and alumni of her alma mater. Eight of them attended the luncheon, a surprise to Wood.

"She didn't know we would be here," said Betty Bartley.

Town and Gown member David More presented Wood with a bouquet.

Other presentations included a city proclamation read by Mayor Jane Egly, who announced Wood's upcoming birthday and was thanked by Wood for not mentioning which one.

Egly also read the proclamation from the state senate, signed by Tom Harman, and a certificate of recognition signed by Orange County 5th District Supervisor Pat Bates.

The Exchange Club which had honored Wood in 2005 with the Book of Golden Deed, awarded to outstanding volunteers, presented her with gold-wrapped, chocolate apples in tribute to her teaching career and provided floral decorations.

Pat Freeman gave Wood an orchid from neighbors on Oak Street, where she has lived since 1972. Wood was also presented with a Jessica de Stefano portrait of Stanley, her boon canine companion.

Woman's Club President Denise Ballester concluded the presentations with the Woman of the Year Award.

The White House catered the luncheon. The event committee included Gayle Waite, Peggie Thomas, City Clerk Martha Anderson, Louise Buckley, Connie Burlin, Susan Green, former Mayor Cheryl Kinsman, Mischa Martineau, Robin Pierson, Andrea Miller, Pam Wicks, Lynn Weiser, Pam Wicks, Pauline Walpin, Carol Reynolds and St. John, the latter three former Women of the Year.

Also at the luncheon, former Women of the Year Carolyn Wood, Jean Raun, Cindy Prewitt and Ann Quilter; Mayor Pro Tem Verna Rollinger, Councilwoman Toni Iseman, Deputy City Clerk Lisette Chel, City Manager John Pietig, Playhouse Executive Director Karen Wood (no relation), Community Foundation CEO Darrcy Loveland, Patriots Day Parade President Ed Hanke and Visitors Bureau President Karen Philippsen.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Call (714) 966-4618 or email coastlinepilot@latimes.com with Attn. Barbara Diamond in the subject line.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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