The Rev. Lee Axtell Wood, pastor of St. John's Episcopal church in Porterville and for years one of the most
potent personal factors in the development of the general social and cultural interests of Tulare county, is a
native of the old Sunflower state but has been a resident of California since the days of his childhood, and is
thus as much a Californian in impulse and interest as though indeed "native and to the manner born".
A scholarly product of the educational institutions of California, Mr. Wood is thoroughly conversant with the history
and the traditions of this state and his activities in connection with development work here during what properly
may be regarded as the modern period of this great central section of central California, the heart of the wondrous
valley of the San Joaquin, have written his name high on the roster of those whose interests during the past two
or three decades have been so earnestly devoted to that end. Not only in stimulating the spiritual impulses of
the people among whom he has so thoughtfully and so effectively labored has he done a good work, but his energies
and unselfish efforts have found outlet in other directions and he has long been accounted among the leaders in
the general civic life of the community and in social and welfare service, so that he has come to be widely known
throughout this whole section of the state.
Lee Axtell Wood was born in the interesting old frontier town of Emporia, Kansas, August 9, 1878, and was eight
years of age when, in company with his parents, Lewis C. and Gertrude (Axtell) Wood, he came to California in 1886,
the family locating in San Diego. He finished his primary education in the Southwest Institute in that city and
then entered Pomona College at Claremont, from which he was graduated in 1900. After two years of postgraduate
work at Stanford University he entered the Church Divinity School of the Pacific at San Mateo and in 1906 was graduated
from that institution and was admitted to holy orders. Upon his entrance into the ministry of the Episcopal church
Mr. Wood was appointed curate of the parish of St. Matthew's in San Mateo. In March, 1908, he was given his first
pastoral charge, this being in St. Paul's, Visalia, and it was thus that he became in that year a resident of Tulare
county, with the best interests of which county he ever since has been definitely and closely identified.
Pastoral service at St. Paul's in Visalia at that time also included service in St. John's parish at Tulare and
Mr. Wood found himself in a wide and interesting field a field which he gradually and serviceably extended by establishing
missions in Porterville and Lindsay. In September, 1911, he was installed as pastor of St. John's parish in Porterville
and since has been a resident of that city. During the time he was in charge of St. Paul's at Visalia, Mr. Wood
remodeled and enlarged the church edifice and built the parish house. He also directed the erection of St. James
church in Lindsay and the attractive St. John's church and parish house in Porterville also were built under his
During the time of this country's participation in the World war (1917-18) Mr. Wood rendered service as the chairman
of the exemption board for district No. 2 in Tulare county and also rendered effective service in the local operations
of the American Red Cross, serving for three years as chairman of the local society of that beneficent organization.
When it came time to establish a community nurse in connection with the operation of the city schools in Porterville
he was one of the prime movers in that direction and also has been for years active in all local relief work movements.
In civic affairs Mr. Wood ever has taken a good citizen's interest and long has served as a member of the board
of directors of the local public library. As before noted, he has long been an interested and observant student
of local history, well informed in matters relating to this section of California, and as a member of the advisory
board acting in conjunction with the operations connected with the compilation and publication of this present
work, has rendered a service to the editor and compilers of this history that is gratefully acknowledged by the
On April 22, 1908, in San Mateo, the Rev. Lee A. Wood was united in marriage to Miss Jessie Cuthbert, daughter
of J. D. Cuthbert, of San Mateo. Mr. and Mrs. Wood have two children: A daughter, Helen, born in 1916; and a son,
Lee Axtell Wood, Jr., born in 1925. Mrs. Wood is a native daughter of California, born in Alameda, and by scholastic
training is admirably qualified to serve as a devoted helpmate to her husband in the exacting and difficult duties
of his ministerial vocation, a gentle and helpful factor in the social and cultural activities to which she has
been able to lend herself. Mr. Wood is a Knight Templar Mason, an active member of the influential Rotary Club
of Porterville and is a past chaplain of Porterville Lodge No. 1342, Benevolent Protective Order of Elks.
Rev. Mr. Wood was instrumental, through the Red Cross, in establishing in 1923-4, the children's playground; a
dental clinic, through the Tuberculosis Association, in the public schools; was chairman and vice chairman of the
Red Cross in 1922-24, and is now one of the directors and chairman of the relief committee.
History of Tulare County, California
By: Kathleen Edwards Small
Kings County, California
By: J. Larry Smith
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
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