Edward A. Veit, a criminal justice consultant and former California corrections official who was an advocate for the parole system, died July 22 of congestive heart failure, his family said. He was 87.
Mr. Veit was a noted criminal justice expert with more than 50 years of experience in correctional institutions and field services. He began patrolling the tough streets of East Los Angeles as a sheriff's deputy before moving to rural Northern California in 1960 to raise his family near Auburn.
Starting as a correctional officer at Folsom Prison, he rose to be the state's top inspector of local jails as executive director of the Board of Corrections. He served as an assistant deputy director of the California Department of Corrections and was named in 1985 to be deputy director and chief of parole and community services.
"Ed was known as someone who did everything he touched exceptionally well," said Bob Keldgord, former Sacramento County chief probation officer. "He distinguished himself on the institutional side of corrections, and then he got into field services and did the same thing."
As parole chief, Mr. Veit traveled throughout California forging connections between county sheriffs and state agents. He worked with state lawmakers and supported funding for jails and programs to help prepare and supervise inmates released into communities.
He assisted state and local agencies and traveled to many countries as a criminal justice consultant after retiring from public service in 1989. He served on the board of the American Justice Institute and wrote policy papers on criminal justice issues.
"He was a very bright, thoughtful guy who always had a grasp of problems and lots of good ideas," said Richard McKone of the American Justice Institute. "He was also just a nice, pleasant guy. Nobody anywhere ever had a bad word to say about Ed."
Born in 1925 in Los Angeles, Edward Alexander Veit grew up in Tujunga and moved often with his struggling family during the Great Depression. He joined the Navy and fought at Guadalcanal and other Pacific battle sites during World War II.
After earning an international relations degree from University of Southern California, he rejoined the Navy and served as a Korean translator during the Korean War. He worked in his father's paving business before taking a job with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
He had four children with his first wife, Phyllis, and was a volunteer firefighter and school board member in the Placer County town of Ophir. His first marriage ended in divorce, and he was predeceased by his second wife, Ruth Veit. He is survived by his life partner, Ruth Morgan.
Besides family, Mr. Veit devoted his life to criminal justice issues. He went out on evening patrols with police in Paso Robles, where he lived the last 10 years. In 2009, the Paso Robles Police Department honored him as volunteer of the year.
"He read at least three newspapers a day and mailed out packets of clippings to everyone he knew," said his daughter Kathy Veit. "He was always doing something where he felt he could make a difference."