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Elwood M. Rich


1920 - 2015 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Elwood M. Rich Obituary
ELWOOD M. RICH November 20, 1920 - January 29, 2015 Retired judge Elwood M. Rich (Woody) was born in Turbot, Northumberland County November 20, 1920 to George and Helen Mary Rich, who were itinerant workers in the apple orchards. He grew up in Williamsport, Lycoming County, in north-central Pennsylvania and sometimes lived with his maternal grandfather, Attorney John Wesley Group, in Rauchtown, Clinton County. In Williamsport he lived baseball and played in locally organized groups who played teams from the surrounding area. These youths were the fore-runners of the new internationally-organized Little League, begat in Williamsport. Woody attended Williamsport High School, from which he graduated in 1939. Woody enrolled in Duke University in 1939 where he graduated and completed his first year of law school. He passed the California and Illinois Bar Exams in 1946. He never missed a day of school from junior high through law school. After a short stint of civil practice in Glendale, he came to Riverside in 1947 and employed by W.O. Mackey in the District Attorney's Office, where he remained until elected judge in 1952. He married Lorna Beryl Smith Jirik, daughter of Edgar Vernon Smith and Ella Elizabeth Moe in 1948 in Hemet, CA. Lorna was born February 11, 1921 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada and passed away July 28, 2007. In 1952 when he was thirty-two years old, he ran for the position of Municipal Court judge in Riverside Judicial District, was elected and served there for eighteen years with almost perfect attendance. Woody founded what is now California Southern Law School in Riverside in 1971 and was dean of the law school until 2014. Woody was appointed to the Riverside Superior Court in April 1971 by then Governor Ronald Reagan and retired there in November 1980. He worked two days a week as a mediator for Riverside Superior Court from 1984 until 2012 and privately in mediation and arbitration from 1981 until 2013. Throughout the years he and Lorna enjoyed extensive domestic and foreign travel and participated in many Elderhostel (now Road Scholar) adventures. Woody was a voracious reader and movie buff; he loved his long-time, simple, yet responsible life in the Wood Street area of Riverside. He and Lorna were generous financial supporters of Eden Lutheran Church. We would like to especially thank Right at Home and their caregivers for caring for Woody these past several months. We would also like to thank VITAS Healthcare, Riverside. Judge Rich passed away on January 29, 2015 at the age of 94. His remains will be interred in Riverside's Evergreen Memorial Historic Cemetery. Woody is survived by four sons, Stevan, Brian, Gregory, and Scott; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. At Woody's request there will be no formal services. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory will be gratefully received by Eden Lutheran Church, 4725 Brockton Avenue, Riverside 92506; Evergreen Memorial Historic Cemetery, P.O. Box 20544, Riverside 92516 and The Community Foundation, 3700 Sixth Street, Suite 200, Riverside 92501 (Attn: Lorna B. Rich Endowment Fund).


Published in Press-Enterprise from Jan. 31 to Feb. 5, 2015
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