HAROLD S. WOODEN
"A children's dormitory is
not finished if you just put
children in it. Children are
human beings. They' re all
Harold S. 'Woody' Wooden Jr. of Brigantine, N.J. passed away Saturday, April 30, 2016. He was 83.
Born in Moorestown, N.J., Harold is survived by his beloved wife, Betty Wooden; his son, Mark H. Wooden (Diane); daughter, Gail A. Booth (Ray); stepchildren, Diana Maris, Kathleen Williams, Patricia Warne (Bill) and Joseph Brock (Kelly); and his adopted son, Juan Gonzalez (Jacquie). He is also survived by 11 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Woody was preceded in death by his parents, Harold S. Wooden Sr. and Dorothy Mae Winkler Wooden, and his sister, Virginia Johnstone.
Wooden joined the U.S. Navy in 1952. The 'Hawk' served aboard U.S.S Kearsarge CVA 33 and USS Bon Homme Richard. He was honorably discharged in 1956.
Woody joined the Palmyra Police Department of Burlington County, N.J. in 1989. He owned and operated the Harold S. Wooden Jr. Inc. Independent Insurance Agency in Riverside, N.J. from 1959 to 1996. He became a member of Rotary International in 1959 and served as president of the Riverside, Delran, Delanco Rotary Club in 1969.
He organized and headed the effort to build the Armondo Rosenberg Orphanage Complex in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic for the needy children of that country, adding a medical clinic, primary school and vocational training school, day care center and dormitory that educated more than 1,500 orphaned and abandoned and those from severe poverty.
Harold was a member of Lodge #2 Fraternal Order of Police and Fireman. He was life member of the Veterans of Foreign War. His greatest honor was being appointed as the president of the Orchid Foundation Inc. (a non-profit foundation), Poverty Order of Catholic Sisters, and of the Devine Master of Valencia, Spain: as a Brother to that Order, he touched the lives of thousands.
It all began in 1983. A man named Harold S. Wooden (Woody) was offered a free ticket to the Dominican Republic. Woody accepted the gift from his family, who felt it was a much needed and well-earned vacation. A devoted Rotarian, Woody spent time with local Dominican Rotarians, who introduced him to some of the Community Service activities in progress. It was then that he came across the project that touched his heart and, unbeknownst to him, would take precedence in all that he did thereafter.
"The children were in a desperate situation. I was devastated. The small shacks that some of the children lived in were beyond description. The conditions of the orphanage, then call San Salvador, were horrific. An open-air kitchen with pots burning on firewood, kids sleeping on the ground and young girls unclothed, with no shelter, were some of the characteristics I can recall" said Woody. "I brought that story back to New Jersey and asked a local photographer to photograph the deplorable conditions. It became a major World Community Service project in the Caribbean between Rotary District 7640 in New Jersey and District 4060 in the Dominican Republic that took more than four years to complete."
In 1988 the dormitory was completed. The dedication ceremony took place with the Dominican flag, the Vatican Banner, and the Rotary flag, flying proudly. That was a very meaningful and proud moment for Woody. It was official; the project was a success! Woody went home and many people proclaimed: " You did the job. The dormitory is finished." But Woody soon realized that a dormitory for children is not complete if you just put children into it. The "project" had really only just begun. "Children are human beings. We need to maintain what we have given to them. Children are children - all God's children. It is not their fault they were born there. It would not be fair to walk away from them now." In 1989, Orchid Foundation, Inc. was founded to provide ongoing support and assistance to Hogar Escuela Armando Rosenberg.