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Lois Wood helped low income and senior citizens get free legal aid in Illinois for 43 years

Lois Wood, former executive director at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation in East St. Louis
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio
Lois Wood, former executive director at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation in East St. Louis

For 43 years, Lois Wood helped low income and elderly residents in Illinois receive legal assistance.

The executive director of the nonprofit Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation in East St. Louis retired a few weeks ago.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve had time off in any reasonable amount,” Wood said as she reflected on her long career with St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh.

The organization provides free legal services to low-income persons and senior citizens in 65 counties in central and southern Illinois. At its core are justice for those who may not be heard, empowerment and creating positive change in communities.

“It’s hard because we don’t have nearly enough funding and staff to meet all of the legal needs of low income and elderly people we serve,” Wood said.

Wood grew up on a farm in rural Nebraska. The path she took led her to Harvard Law School, from where she graduated in 1974.

“I came to law school with the expectation that I would find a way to make a difference in people’s lives,” Wood said. “We try to figure out what are our priorities, how do we decide which kinds of cases we focus on.”

The Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation exclusively deals with civil cases, most often with family law, domestic violence advocacy and housing.

Wood still works with the organization on a limited basis to help with the transition to a new executive director. She said she may, in the future, assist a political candidate whose goals match her own.

“I am very concerned about access to healthcare. I expect to be active in advocacy for the continuation of access to healthcare,” she said.

For now, Wood is doing more of the activities she enjoys: spending time with her family, gardening and sleeping in.

“It’s really nice,” she said about getting some extra sleep.


St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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