The life of Bill Rosendahl, a former Los Angeles city councilman and cable television executive, will be celebrated through poetry, music and memorials at Mar Vista Park Saturday.
Mayor Eric Garcetti will deliver the eulogy at the 2 p.m. service, which is being billed as an event matching Rosendahl’s warm, larger-than-life style.
Rosendahl died March 30 at age 70 after a four-year battle with cancer. He was an executive at a cable television company and a public affairs broadcaster before serving on the council from 2005 to 2013, when he retired to fight stage-four cancer.
Toward the end of his tenure in office, Rosendahl was an ardent supporter of medical marijuana, which he used to fight the side effects of his cancer treatments.
The “GREAT GREAT GREAT: A Celebration of Life” at Mar Vista Park today follows a more solemn ceremony held earlier this month at St. Monica’s Catholic Church that featured a eulogy by former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
“Billy was great, great, great, great, great, great, great!” Villaraigosa said in his remembrance, invoking one of Rosendahl’s favorite catch-phrases to describe his former colleague.
He also said Rosendahl had an “unbridled enthusiasm for life” and was the type of man who embraced people of all backgrounds, including people who were homeless.
The public is welcome to make donations to three organizations in lieu of flowers at http://www.11thdistrict.com. The organizations, which serve the homeless, are Safe Place for Youth, New Directions for Veterans and the Jeff Griffith Youth Center at the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center.
In July 2012, after collapsing suddenly, Rosendahl was diagnosed with cancer of the ureter, a tube that connects the kidney to the bladder. He was told he did not have long to live.
He said that for several months, he would suffer from delirium and underwent numerous chemotherapy treatments, which reduced him from a hale 225 pounds to 170.
It was only after his doctor suggested he use marijuana to help him ease the pain and get more sleep that he began to recover. The extra rest helped save his life, Rosendahl said in 2013.
He resumed his City Council duties in September 2012, throwing himself into getting a medical marijuana law passed and becoming the only council member to oppose a plan to expand an LAX runway closer to some of his constituents. In April 2013, Rosendahl announced he was in remission.
“The amount of love I’ve gotten has been phenomenal,” he told his colleagues on his first day back from medical leave. “People have brought food to the house. People have prayed with me, people have sung with me. They put all kinds of positive energy toward me.”
Rosendahl was at one time a vice president of communications company Adelphia and arrived on the council to represent the 11th Council District in 2005 after years as a cable channel host covering public affairs. Prior to that, he worked on presidential campaigns for Robert Kennedy, Fred Harris and George McGovern.
Rosendahl ran for office as openly gay, which was something that had never been done before. Two previous council members, Jackie Goldberg and Joel Wachs, came out after they were elected.
Rosendahl came out as gay in 1995 when his partner, Christopher Lee Blauman, died of complications of AIDS.
Rosendahl is survived by his partner, Hedi El-Kholti; brother Thomas and sister-in-law Sheila, and their sons, Robbie-Paul, Ricky-Luke and Arthur; brother Steven; sister Mary LeMothe; sister Helen Davoren; and nephew Christopher.
—City News Service
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