With the death of John Ferraro, Los Angeles, and the Fourth District in particular, have lost a leader, a neighbor and a friend.
A statesman, tall in stature as well as demeanor, Ferraro succumbed to cancer on April 17.
His funeral service was conducted by Cardinal Roger Mahony at St. Brendan Church, drawing his family and a legion of friends from among the city's civic leaders and his Fourth District neighbors.
Ferraro truly exemplified the definition of public servant. First appointed to the Fourth District City Council seat in 1966 following the death of then-Councilman Harold Henry, Ferraro was elected to the post in 1967, and was in his ninth term when he died. He was also serving in his 18th year as City Council president.
"John Ferraro was a common man with uncommon strength, integrity and political instincts," said County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who had served with him on the City Council for 19 years.
Ferraro's support of historic preservation enabled our community to stave off many rezoning and demolition efforts. He is credited with helping to save the Wiltern Building, the May Co. building, the historic lighting in both Windsor Square and Hancock Park as well as leading the drive to renovate the Los Angeles Zoo.
Los Angeles applauded his efforts in helping bring the 1984 Olympics to the city. He was also instrumental in adding Staples Center to the downtown skyline and attracting the 2000 Democratic Convention to the new center.
Ferraro's dedication to his city was recognized by the Los Angeles Board of Water and Power commissioners in 2000 who named the headquarters building at 111 N. Hope St. the "John Ferraro Office Building." The John Ferraro Athletic Fields in Griffith Park were recently named in honor of the former All-American football star who played for USC in three Rose Bowls. He was the recipient of numerous awards including the Central City Association's 2000 Heart of the City Award, the Los Angeles Headquarters 2000 Enduring Spirit Award and the USC General Alumni Association's Asa V. Call Achievement Award.
USC has established a faculty chair in Effective Local Government to inspire future generations of students to follow Ferraro's record as an ethical and effective public servant.
A Hancock Park resident for many years, he shared his home with his wife Margaret until her death in January 2000. He is survived by a son, Luckeygian, a sister and brother and numerous nieces and nephews.
The family requests that donation be made in his name to: Margaret and John Ferraro Chair, School of Policy, Planning and Development, University Park, USC, Los Angeles 90089.
Donations for a tree in his honor on the Larchmont median strip may be made to the Larchmont Memorial Tree Fund, c/o Mike Genewick, 100 S. Van Ness Ave., Los Angeles 90004 (check made out to the California Community Foundation).