This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, George Wolfberg . We will remember him forever.
Posted by Song Oh on February 13, 2020
In writing this tribute, I am recalling a quote from Maya Angelou about people not remembering what you said or did but will remember how you made them feel. This is particularly apt for me as my memory is dimming slowly but surely. I am humbled by all the tributes to George before mine speaking to the ways that George touched and helped so many. The thing I will never forget is how George made me feel welcome in his home, how his cooking made me feel nourished and cared for and the smile and laughter that made me feel I was in a safe space to be myself. George, despite my failing memory, I will remember for the rest of my life how you made me feel that I mattered as a fellow human traveler.
Posted by M. Wolfberg on February 13, 2020
The shiva is over and I thought I would share some fond memories of my Uncle George ע"ה. The following thoughts I share with you all as they come to mind; the thoughts are not necessarily in chronological order nor are they in order of importance or meaningfulness to me.

Recently, I heard the John Williams theme to the 1984 Olympics and my mind traveled back 35+ years to that amazing summer in LA. Uncle George got us tickets to a preview of the opening ceremony. As a historical side note, I remember everyone cheering when the Romanian team passed, as this was during the height of the cold war.

We enjoyed the Olympic games very much, besides the fact that Uncle George was instrumental in bringing the games to LA, I am sure that we benefited personally from being related to him. Uncle George got me an official orange Olympics jacket (it was so 1980's) which I wore proudly, etc. We also had fun trading Olympic pins. We were able to buy a surplus flag pole and many surplus international flags too which may have been due to Uncle George's insider knowledge.

Growing up I remember the funny license plates "5NOFISH" which was followed by "NOFISH2" which were probably a mystery to all but the closest of family members. I remember the long Passover seders led by Uncle George at the "other Wolfbergs'" house.

I remember a road trip to Northern California where I made Uncle George laugh with a play-on-words which can't be repeated here. I remember being proud of the fact that I made Uncle George laugh.

Later I became a police officer in Culver City and Uncle George was very proud of me. Once, when Uncle George was being honored in City Hall, and I was a cop at the time, I came down and Uncle George proudly introduced me as his nephew who was a CCPD officer (there is video of that event somewhere in CSPAN heaven...)

Later I became an orthodox Jew and Uncle George was very supportive.  Once he and Aunt Diane slept the night in my apartment in upstate New York, it was an honor for me, and Aunt Diane taught me the easy way to put on a duvet cover.  I remember introducing Uncle George to my Rabbi; it was Purim, and we had to run over to the Rabbi to greet him, Uncle George was 100% game as we ran quickly to greet the Rabbi.

He, Aunt Diane, Anya and her then husband Rabbi Jason came to my wedding in New York in 2003 and Uncle George took a lot of pictures with his new-fangled digital camera. In fact, I learned my photographic style, if I have any, from Uncle George, especially in regards to his habit of taking zoomed candid shots. 

As my family grew, קע"ה Uncle George was very proud of me. He told me last year that he met up with a cop friend of mine. Uncle George asked the cop how many kids he had (2, I believe) and then Uncle George proudly told him "Well, my nephew's got 6!"

I remember once going with Uncle George and my father, יבדל בין חיים לחיים to shul in LA on their father's yortzeit, and the Rav invited me to speak to the minyan between Mincha and Ma'ariv and Uncle George was very proud.

I always felt that Uncle George had nachas from his great nieces and nephews (among those, my children) who carry the names of his parents and grandparents.

I got to say goodbye to Uncle George this past Chanukah. He was having trouble finding an appetite to eat, and I asked him if he wanted a jelly doughnut in honor of Chanukah, which he did. We bought him the jelly doughnut; that was the last time I saw Uncle George. We ended on a sweet note....



Posted by Barbara McCann on February 13, 2020
My early experience with George's enthusiasm and openness was shortly after his daughter Anya married my brother, Richard. I live on the East Coast so I had met George just once (at the wedding?), and we had talked about the pedestrian safety advocacy work he was doing in Los Angeles. I work in this field (having started the Complete Streets movement), so I talk to a lot of people that share this passion, and I was pleased he was involved. Some months later, I got a long email in my professional account about progress in pedestrian advocacy in Los Angeles. I didn't recognize the name, but what really pulled me up short is that it was signed, "Hugs, George." Who did I know professionally well enough to hug? It finally dawned on me and I realized that this is where Anya got her embracing style and her own enthusiasm for changing the world. 

From everything I learned about George since then, I know his impact will reverberate for many years. He had a great combination of passion and optimism that we all should emulate.
Posted by Craig Lawson on February 11, 2020
I met George shortly after joining Mayor Tom Bradley’s office in late 1977. I was in my early 20’s, fresh out of college, and George was in his late 30’s with many years of service to the City of L.A. (he ended up working for the City for 35 years).

Shortly after I started working for the Mayor, L.A. was awarded the 1984 Olympic Games. Deputy Mayor Ray Remy (who passed away just a few weeks ago) was named liaison to the Olympic Committee and he asked me to provide staff support in this effort. One of my first assignments was to work with the Recreation & Parks Dept staff to refine a plan for building some Olympic venues in the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area (near Encino). George was in the CAO’s office doing early work on bringing a velodrome (cycling arena) to the Sepulveda Basin, and thus our paths crossed. (George had worked on the bidding documents for the 1984 Olympics, and he quietly put in a line item stating that LA would include a women’s cycling event, a first for the Olympics.)

We quickly realized that we had similar interests. We were both from the Palisades/Brentwood area, enjoyed cycling, fishing, and spending time at the beach, and were interested in improving the delivery of municipal services. We served together on the inter-agency committee that coordinated City services in support of the Olympics, such as transportation, security, utilities, and venues such as the LA Convention Center. And we both collected and traded Olympic pins (George’s collection was much bigger than mine).

I can’t remember when, but at some point we realized that George’s cousin was married to my cousin. Thus, we were related by marriage, but didn’t know it for years. From that point forward George called me “cuz”.

I got to know some of George’s friends such as Jay Flood (Olympic Swimming Commissioner) and Alex Baum (cycling enthusiast). George collected friends and kept them for life.

I left City service in 1987, but stayed in touch with George. I greatly enjoyed his enthusiasm, dedication, and honesty. He was a doer, he pursued long term goals and often reached those goals. And he was a community leader, as evidenced by the numerous honors and awards he received.

He will be missed.
Posted by Doug Suisman on February 11, 2020
George was an environmentalist in the truest sense of the word: he cared about, and took care of, everything that surrounded him. His family, friends, canyon, community, city. In the settled history of Santa Monica Canyon and the Palisades, a handful of people have taken the burdens of its stewardship on themselves, in order to preserve the beauty and character of this special place. George was one of them. He was the walking embodiment of citizenship. He demonstrated the power of quiet determination and happy commitment to a community. So many of his neighbors and community members have benefited from his tireless efforts, and there are legions who are grateful for his many gifts to all of us and our children.
Posted by Marsha Lewin on February 10, 2020
George was a man of conviction and action, commitment and caring, in whatever he did - work, sports, family & community. His honesty and fairness on the soccer field extended to everything he touched.
This world is decidedly poorer in his absence.
Posted by Monique Gibbons on February 10, 2020
So sorry to hear about your dad - he was a fun guy and I remember him fondly from all those years ago. My condolences to the whole family.

Monique Maas Gibbons
Posted by Richard Dickinson on February 8, 2020
I was saddened to hear of George’s passing. But his service on Friday was a fitting tribute that I hope can give his family a bit of comfort. George was a fine guy. My connection with George was through City Hall and the CAO. I’ve known George about fifty years.

My list of memories is long, but here are a few things that come to mind about my old supervisor and friend.

* When someone in the office would say “Surf’s up” everyone understood that George wasn’t in the office.
* George was a talented ceramicist. I still have the coffee mug he presented to me when I first started working for him. I’d like to know if his “Cookie Monster” jar survived. He was the first person I met who had a potter’s wheel and kiln in his home.
* George always had a great and genuine smile.
* George was very engaged in all sorts of sports activities including surfing, soccer, bicycling, refereeing, etc.
* George was heavily involved in the multi-week long CAO Super Stars sports tournament.
* Speaking of soccer there was the time he helped organize a CAO soccer tournament. It was held at a field in Santa Monica Canyon. Many of the CAO participants like me had no idea how the game of soccer was played or what the rules were. As a consequence, the “soccer” match was more a mixture of rugby, NFL football, and soccer that sent at least 2 players to the emergency room.
* George was a great mentor. Always patient.
* South Africa Ordinance — when L.A. City decided to take a stand against South Africa apartheid, George was a pit bull. He doggedly pushed all city departments to purge contracts connected with South Africa.
* George was a real asset and institutional memory for the L.A. Charter Reform Committee.
* George was a strong advocate for the needs of his community, serving on various boards and navigating the city and county administrative and political mine fields.
* 1984 Olympics. I cannot thank George enough for pulling me into the Olympic effort at the very outset. Under George’s watchful eye, I worked on the Olympics for the City over a period of about seven years starting with the bid through all of the reports to Council to handing the final check to the Controller of the LAOOC for their unspent deposits, I can personally attest that no taxpayer funds were spent on the 1984 Olympics. 
* George came up with the first Olympic pin, known as the “City Hall pin”, before the pin craze went nuts.
* George introduced me to Alex Baum, one of the LAOOC Board members, a big cycling proponent and enthusiast, and all around nice gentleman. Near me is the Alex Baum Bridge for cyclists that goes over Los Feliz Blvd. I was there at the dedication, and I suspect George played a part in helping to get the bridge named for Alex — a well deserved honor. 
* George was a good dad, a skilled chef, an environmentalist, an ardent UCLA supporter, and an honest and decent guy.
* Sander? In all the years I’ve known GSW until his memorial this week, I didn’t know this was his middle name.
Posted by Jill Stewart on February 8, 2020
George Wolfberg was a gentleman, a brilliant strategist, a friend to many without power, and filled with good. He projected happiness and it rubbed off on many others. My deep condolences to family and friends.
Posted by Chris Moore on February 8, 2020
I am sad to hear George has passed. He was a true help and support as I became involved in the local committees. I had to leave, but he was nothing but passionate, patient, smart, and authentic. George believed it took work and time to make your community better and he lead by example. I will miss him and my thoughts go out to his family.
Posted by David Wolfberg on February 8, 2020
Eulogy for Dad by his Oldest Son

In recent days, we serenaded my dad with some of his favorite songs and since I haven’t been singing much in recent years, I remembered being selected to join a citywide LAUSD elementary school chorus to sing at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. I stood on stage, unable to see anyone in the audience from under the bright stage lights, and was still terrified. In the midst of an introductory speech by the then-head of LAUSD, people in the audience began to boo. A father yelled out, “we want to hear the kids, not you!” Another father’s voice boomed over it through the din of the packed pavilion: “SHUUUUT UUUPPPP!!!” There was silence. Some kids began clapping, so I joined in. The more independently-minded kid next to me asked me if I knew why I was clapping. I shrugged and kept clapping. I didn’t want to tell him that the SHUT UP that had nearly shattered the giant chandeliers surrounding the audience was the distinctive voice of my own father.

My dad had started to lighten up around kids by 1993, when he was serving as the commissioner of the Watts Friendship Sports League. It provided organized sports and recreation for 5,000 youths – soccer, of course, but also a dance program and drum corps. One day while I was there with him and he wasn’t in the room, a couple of kids were bickering. One thought the other was doing something he shouldn’t be doing. “OOOHHHH! I’m telling George!”
I was 25 years old. Up to this point in my life, “telling George” was something you’d only consider as the nuclear option. Anya, Michael and I would never ever think to Tell George. 

I mean, he’d want to know if we were facing mistreatment in the world at large. But to make him sort things out among us kids? The threat of Telling George would be hitting below the belt. 

It would also endanger the teller as much as the kid being narc’d upon. This was the man in whose ten commandments to his staff was the phrase “we do not have feelings.” (We Have Beliefs). But really, at one time or another, every kid we knew, and many adults, had come to dread a response from our dad that became known as THE LOOK. 

So, in this moment in Watts, I’m looking at these kids, and thinking, they don’t know the look??? What Has The Watts Friendship Sports League done with our father? I understood then just how good this kind of volunteering was for him. 

I spoke at his 80th birthday celebration about some of the other strange results of his volunteering for everything and his willingness to do a small favor for someone. How he literally had keys to the city, from cabinets at the local park to the actual Memorial Coliseum. Or he’d have a key to a gated complex with a swimming pool he’d use with a fabulous view from downtown. Things like that. We’d ask what was going on and he’d say “Oh, I did someone a favor.” 

He did some favors that were so successful, he was practically asked to apologize for them. His voice lent the most authority to the Burma selective contracting ordinance. When it came before the full City Council, he suggested they remove language that had made an exception for hotel providers. They did. This was the one case where the city was doing business with a company involved in Burma so it became the only real tooth in the law. The proposed law had been written by Loyola Law Professor Robert Benson, and Bob was very worried that this foray by my dad could lead us to a less than unanimous vote. 

Meanwhile, dad had also just listened to the current CAO tell the council that enforcement couldn’t be done. So my dad, who had already made the city a beacon of hope for South Africa, said he’d be happy to help. As council debated, Cindy Miscikowsky reminded everyone: “Heck, George said he’ll do it.” It passed unanimously. Up until the vote, Bob had been pretty nervous. Sorry. 

Fifteen years later, when I told Dad that my company faced an expiring tax break, and was looking at properties outside of Los Angeles, he brought this up with Councilmember Rosendahl, who became very concerned. When I relayed this back to my company’s general counsel, I was peppered with questions. What exactly had my Dad had said? She had done a great deal of work on the matter and had established relationships already. When I started asking dad, he apologized. Days later, Rosendahl (with Bonin?), Eric Garcetti and Mayor Villaraigosa are standing in our headquarters lobby in front of our Ambassador of First Impressions, surrounded by cameras, to announce the extension of this tax break. Sorry. 

Our dad’s sister Jacquie, a poker and blackjack dealer, has observed that her big brother was known to “hold his cards close to the vest.” Indeed, people who had known him for years were often surprised to learn a new quality about him that had been there all along. Throughout our lives, we heard people who had been part of a facet of our dad’s life refer to him as a “renaissance man” after making such a discovery. You now know about the old school grammarian who had written for the school paper, the Malibu longboard surfer, the swimmer, the soccer guy, and the administrator. He was also prolific behind the pottery wheel, could make an awesome tie dyed shirt, once won a rally medal behind the wheel of his ’63 Porsche, sat me as a child over his rear bicycle wheel and pedaled us all the way down to the Long Beach Pike. He completed that infamous Malibu triathalon the year of the brushfires. He took us camping and never glamping. At fishing, he was a natural.

He faced challenges in his life with a slight wince of bitterness followed by graceful and sweet determination. Years ago, he suffered from irreparable rotator cuff damage. That meant no more swimming. No more surfing. No more pottery. Instead of surrounding himself with his completed pottery, surfboard and goggles, picking up a bottle and lamenting about the good old days, he took up running, started going to the gym, obsessively designed and re-designed his daily smoothies and doubled down on his refereeing schedule. 

He volunteered for so many things that my mom came up with the same rule that many parents apply to their or their kids’ toys. For our dad, that meant if he took on a new volunteer duty, he’d have to get rid of one of the others. 

I still remember the day in 2010 when he told me he’d been drafted to serve on the new LA County Bicycle Advisory Committee. “Don’t tell your mother.” He was off of it a year later. I told mom, the day after he passed.

We’ve brought up our dad being a prolific home chef. To be sure, his ability to delegate played a role. If you failed to arrive an hour late for dinner, you were put to work in our kitchen as soon as you walked in. “But I brought wine,” you may have thought. 

His meals ranged from relatively simple Italian dishes to 12 course Indian dinners, all of them according to the rules of proper simmering and the laws of kashrut that he had set for our household. There were those Chinese dinners Mike has talked about. As I understood it, on those walks up to Chinatown he would also corner little old Chinese ladies. He probably did them favors. All we know is that their deepest, darkest secrets made their way onto our plates. 

Here’s something perhaps only his siblings know: Early in his life in the late 1940s or early 50s, he had successfully experimented with game theory. While it is very unlikely that he had studied John von Neumann’s “Theory of Games and Economic Behavior” which was published when he six, our dad came up with his own marbles game:

Dad cut holes in the top and bottom of a cereal box. He invited his classmates to drop a marble of theirs into one end of the box. If their marble exited from certain holes on the other side, the player would recover their marble and win one of dad’s. If it came out of a different hole, Dad would keep their precious marble. 

And here’s something you all know: The house always wins. 
He had made a study of the box, repeated drops with numerous marbles before he labeled those holes and made the rules. 

He told me this when I was around fifteen. I had, until then, simply stared at the massive jar he kept in our garage in which there sat perhaps a thousand marbles. Until I finally asked about them, I’d had no idea they were blood marbles. But as many of you know, well into his 82nd year, dad still had nearly all his marbles. I am looking forward to hearing more of these stories from his old friends and family in the coming days. 
Posted by Isabel Keossian on February 8, 2020
Remembering your husband, father, wonderful grandfather and very sweet, and kind humble man. Always working in your yard, so meticulously, in each little space, each plant and trees, making it more beautiful each time. Always thinking on mother earth and always having a wonderful smile on his face. Although we didn't spoke much, his charisma was enough to know he was a wonderful human being. After reading about his legacy on this world, I was very surprised! He was such a humble, kind man. He will leave for ever in our hearts and he leaves a great wonderful family that follows his steps, always doing good in the community and beyond! It was a privilege to have had the opportunity to meet the wonderful Mr. George Wolfberg. May your hearts find peace knowing that he will be one of a kind person that will be remembered for ever. ❤
Posted by Sean Holland on February 7, 2020
Having a friend like George in ones life for more than 60 years is truly a treasure beyond description. His dedication and true friendship through these years has enhanced our lives beyond measure. Shared memories from Ucla, working for the City, camping at Catalina, our long ago weddings, Bruin games at Pauley and the Rose Bowl, all form a beautiful tapestry woven with friendship, love and humor. Inspirational and always there with his beaming smile. How lucky are we who have had George as a friend. The world was a better place because of George for he made each of us a better person. RIP dear friend.
Posted by Sarah Mandel on February 7, 2020
Remembering George this morning, I had a vision of him as a young surfer, though I never knew him in those days. Sitting out there on the board swaying gently watching the water way out to the horizon, waiting for the right wave and then riding its energy – seems like a great preparation for the skills he manifested later in life. Far sighted, critically acute, determined and committed to service and protection of nature and his community, that’s the George Wolfberg I knew, even if only a little.
My husband Joel is George’s younger cousin, and remembers admiring him from early childhood. When George and Diane hosted us for a family Thanksgiving in the mid Nineties, I was impressed with how warm, kind and welcoming their home and family felt. Later there were wonderful family Hannukah and Passover celebrations under George and Diane’s wise guidance. They raised a loving, loyal family and I am honored and grateful to have known him.
Posted by Ronald Berman on February 7, 2020
Sheila and I send our message of great sorrow for your loss of George. He will always be among those people whom you can count on in times of need. George was always a go to person with his leadership skills and his concern for others. We are sure that the family’s loving support helped him through his recent medical battles and extended his life. We will always have him and the family in our thoughts. 


There will also be great memories of George and his smile and laugh. George always took great pride in our little contest that occurred as we hurried through “Martin’s” dessert at the House, beating Office Sawyer’s imminent parking ticket and our wild and exciting white knuckle trip up Hiligard to our 1:00 classes on campus. Of course, there was great pleasure and laughter upon our arrival. 
Posted by M. Wolfberg on February 7, 2020
לע"נ ר' גדול בן דוב בער ע"ה

I have arranged for someone to say קדיש for my Uncle George for the next 11 months.

If you want to do something to honor the memory of my uncle, do a mitzvah in his memory and for the elevation of his soul. 

For example, when doing a kindness for someone, say in your mind "I am doing this in memory of George" or, if you prefer "I am doing this because George inspired me to do this mitzvah (e.g., charity, kindness, favor for someone), etc."

תנצב"ה
Posted by Michael Agran on February 6, 2020
I first met George when I pledged the fraternity, over 60 years ago. There are so many memories from those days: riding with George in his 1957 Chevy to pick up girls at Mt. St. Mary's for an exchange; going to Zuma to body surf in January (yikes!); George training Rich and me to qualify as lifeguards; George as the Rex (president) of the fraternity. Fom more recent years there are memories of George at the monthly luncheons, always with his big smile; fishing on the annual trips with the brothers notwithstanding the difficulty of maintaining his vegan diet in Montana. George was always a leader, always working to make the world a better place and always a gentle man. We will miss him. RIP George.
Posted by Emile Levisetti on February 6, 2020
I originally met George about 7-8 years ago. We both attended one of the first meetings at the Canyon School about a possible sidewalk. As most in the Canyon know this became a somewhat contentious issue. But George never really got ruffled. He was a great source of advice and information for the entire community about how the city worked. He was level headed and a steady hand at times when passions were running high. More than anything he kept his trademark smile and wry sense of humor about the whole thing. What a relief he was.

My experience with George is alas limited to the SMCCA Board and community activism, it was not as deep as many here will be. I wish it bad been. He was a tremendous motivator and organizer. It was the first time I witnessed community politics and activism. George worked tirelessly to improve the conditions of our neighborhood for all. His input, experience, camaraderie, willingness, and presence will be sorely missed. I will miss his smile, and gentle encouragement.
Posted by Leslie Campbell on February 6, 2020
I am profoundly sorry to receive word that our treasured community member, and leader, has left us. George was a champion of so many great causes including our future Palisades dogpark, and for that, I am truly grateful. There will be many heavy hearts in our village this week…and beyond.

Sorry for yours and our loss,
Leslie Campbell
Palisades Dog Park Working Group
Posted by Ron Staake on February 6, 2020
I met George probably 7 years ago when I joined the Board of the Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association (SMCCA). It was my first time joining a non-profit organization. I knew very little about City Government and the responsibilities of various departments, city employees, and elected officials. George sort of took me under his wing to assist me. I was amazed at his knowledge and passion for the City of Santa Monica and the neighborhood that the SMCCA covered. He was always available to answer any questions I had and we shared many great, albeit short, drives together from our house to the monthly meetings discussing any number of topics. George had a great heart and an inspiring presence. I will miss our conversations we shared. My wife Deanna and I send our deepest condolences to the spirit of George and to his family - he was a good, honest, decent man.
Ron and Deanna Staake
Posted by Kathleen Tomajan on February 6, 2020
Thank you so much of your years of service in AYSO. I saw your face and instantly was taken back to the many years of soccer in Region 69. I remember your calm demeanor and smiling face and those endless miles you ran weekend after weekend while being our referee. I was such a shy and insecure kid and soccer gave me confidence. Thank you again for selflessly being there for us all those years!

Kathleen Tomajan
Posted by Lois Yellowthunder on February 6, 2020
I will miss George -- his wonderfull laugh and smile. I was astonished at his amazing life of service to his city, community, and neighborhood and his hospitality and devotion to his family. It was inspiring to know him.
Posted by Earl Goldberg on February 6, 2020
A Few Memories Of George That Endeared Him To Me:

- At UCLA, my fraternity brother, George was a sports reporter for the Daily Bruin and I was on the Water Polo Team. He would come to the matches and write stories about my exploits that were totally exaggerated and he gave me the nick name “Earl the Pearl”

- George was one of the few people on this planet that always laughed at my very corny jokes.

- Occasionally George would be the Center Referee at my daughter’s soccer matches. My daughters would ask me if he is such a good friend why doesn’t he cut our team a little slack. I would tell them that he is always a very honest and fair person and his calls are what he sees.

- Hanging out with George at UCLA track meets when he was doing the Pole Vault stats.

- Seeing George at the monthly Fraternity lunches.

- Giving me some tips on how to deal with the Building Department & contractors.

- Following George's exploits in the "Pali Post".

I am sure going to miss him a lot!

My deepest condolences to his loving and caring family!

Earl Lewis Goldberg
Posted by Anya McCann on February 6, 2020
I will never forget and always fondly remember his role as a lead analyst for the City of Los Angeles as it sought to divest from apartheid South Africa. He took pride in and showed honor for his worked. May he Rest In Peace.
Mark Ridley-Thomas
Posted by Anya McCann on February 6, 2020
I am so sorry to hear this. George combined strength and dignity in public service. I always enjoyed interacting with him when I was Mayor Garcetti's West Area Representative from 2013-2018.

Respectfully,

Daniel Tamm
LA Sanitation & Environment | Program Marketing Specialist
Posted by Christina Spitz on February 6, 2020
I’ve known and worked with George for almost 16 years. When I first encountered him as leader of the Potrero Canyon Community Advisory Committee, I was initially wary as I didn’t know who he was and, as a canyon rim resident, I was opposing (at the time) some of the recommendations being made by that Committee. After I was appointed to the Committee by then-Councilman Rosendahl, I began working with George and quickly realized that he was someone special. I learned a lot from him over the years about leadership, listening to others’ points of view and compromise. I worked extensively with him as we both served as officers of PPCC, and we were true partners during the last year that he served as Chair. To put it simply: I miss his wisdom, insight, energy, optimism, unparalleled knowledge and guidance every day! George was a true mentor to me and so many others, both in the Palisades and beyond. We are all full of sorrow but also buoyed by our fond memories of George -- not the least of which included his wonderful homemade jam! My husband Jeff and I send a sincere message of sympathy to Diane, Anya, David, Michael and his entire family. George will never be forgotten.
Posted by Christina Spitz on February 6, 2020
I’ve known and worked with George for almost 16 years. When I first encountered him as leader of the Potrero Canyon Community Advisory Committee, I was initially wary as I didn’t know who he was and, as a canyon rim resident, I was opposing (at the time) some of the recommendations being made by that Committee. After I was appointed to the Committee by then-Councilman Rosendahl, I began working with George and quickly realized that he was someone special. I learned a lot from him over the years about leadership, listening to others’ points of view and compromise. I worked extensively with him as we both served as officers of PPCC, and we were true partners during the last year that he served as Chair. To put it simply: I miss his wisdom, insight, energy, optimism, unparalleled knowledge and guidance every day! George was a true mentor to me and so many others, both in the Palisades and beyond. We are all full of sorrow but also buoyed by our fond memories of George -- not the least of which involved his wonderful homemade jam! My husband Jeff and I send a sincere message of sympathy to Diane, Anya, David, Michael and his entire family. George will never be forgotten.
Posted by Anya McCann on February 6, 2020
We're all grieving with you and your family. I've known your dad since about 1979, when our young son wanted to sign up for AYSO (after the deadline) and George said, "Sure, he can play, but you have to coach the team." I agreed, even though I didn't know what I was doing, and we had a successful introduction to the sport. At the time, everybody was saying that our son's generation would be the ones to fully embrace soccer as a national sport, and that has indeed proven true. He now lives in Seattle and both of his young daughters are playing soccer. Equally important, he has purchased season tickets to the Sounders, and has as much enthusiasm for pro soccer as he does for baseball and football. Your father played an important role in all of this as he was a key leader in the early years of AYSO here in the Palisades. This is often overlooked by people who only know about your dad's leadership in the community the past 25 years or so. As I said at your dad's 80th birthday party, George was the single most important leader in our town the past two decades, as president of the SM Canyon Association (for decades!), the Community Council (twice) and the Potrero Citizens Advisory Committee. He has been a beloved activist and just about the nicest person I've ever known. You were so fortunate to have him as your father.

....As you well know, your dad was interested in involved in so many community issues, hobbies and other pursuits, that visiting with him was always wide-ranging. Not a lot of people know that he quietly pursued a beach bike-path extension up past Gladstone's, or that he worked out with Rafer Johnson at UCLA many early mornings, or that he refereed soccer into his 80s, or that he like to take photos (I remember when he shot a dramatic photo of flames shooting out of a house in the Canyon and I ran it on the front page of the Post.) So sad for all us to be losing such a wonderful man.
Love,
Bill Bruns
Posted by Lynn Nezin on February 6, 2020
I never saw George without his signature beaming smile. Albeit I didn't see him often enough given our respective geography, I will always treasure our interactions at family functions. I will always remember his sunny presence.
Posted by Jennifer Malaret on February 6, 2020
"The Best Seat at the Table" - at every PPCC meeting, award dinner or holiday party I always tried to sit next to George because I knew if next to George it would be a wonderful, witty few hours. That includes the years he came to our home for LUC meetings and always brought a special treat for everyone to snack on, chocolate covered blueberries being among the favorites. Leaving PPCC, I wrote the following email to George on May 24, 2016: "I will miss you very much and I am saying that with respect to your work but really more to you as a man and my friend. I have always considered you a mentor and have been much admirable...I have been very fortunate to know you, your wife, Andrew and those associated with the Wolfberg family and causes. With love, admiration and support always." I will always be grateful for all those times at the tables next to George.
Posted by Barry Freeman on February 6, 2020
All of us have lost a terrific human being. George and I go back over 50 years and have shared alot as fraternity brothers, fishing buddies and car nuts. He participated in every PILam fishing trip and his presence contributed to the success of each.

Perhaps one everlasting memory is his ever present smile and laugh. Always upbeat, never angry and even keeled was George. I marveled at his level head and ability to "roll with the punch" whatever it was.

Truly will be missed.

Posted by Anya McCann on February 6, 2020
When I first showed up to the Pacific Palisades Community Council, George welcomed me. He took the time to talk to me, ask me about myself, and why I was there. He gave me advice about my issue, and told me who to talk to. He was truly a warm and welcoming person. He had no way of knowing that he had refereed many of my soccer games when I was a kid. I didn’t mention it, I don’t think I did in the time I knew him. It made perfect sense that he was a ref—he had a marvelous temperament and an easy way about him that put others at ease. I soon realized that he was also very funny, something you quickly come to appreciate sitting in what can, at times, be very dry meetings. He clearly cared deeply for his community and his family. The Palisades is richer because of him, and poorer now that he’s gone.

-----------------
Michael Soneff
Posted by Monique Earl on February 5, 2020
In 2002, I started working as the Pacific Palisades Field Deputy for Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski. As a young African-American women, I had no idea what to expect in terms of reception from the community and I was pretty green. I was introduced to George as the Chair of the PPCC and he immediately took me under his wing. He spent time with me touring the Palisades, gently correcting my mistakes, pushing with a smile, and over the few years I worked in the community he became a friend and a mentor. Fifteen years and several different City jobs later, George stayed in touch with me. He was my friend. He was a dedicated public servant. He loved our City. He will be sorely missed. Diane and the Wolfberg Family, please accept my deepest condolences.
Posted by Lisa Cahill on February 5, 2020
The first time I met George, he took me on a 2+ hour tour of the Palisades, showing me everything that our office needed to help with. I remember being a little dizzy from all the circling around, trying to take notes getting a little car sick, working hard to be good at my new job. And George is driving and telling me a million things. I was feeling anxious and slightly nauseated, and he was leading Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

We finally stopped at the Golden Bull and I remember getting out and breathing in the ocean air and being so grateful that things had paused for a moment. George was smiling and laughing....telling funny stories about all kinds of things..signs, coastal commission, municipal code...my head was spinning. That night I said to my husband, "This George guy...he is really nice, but I can tell he is going to demand a lot. He's really smart too; he's not going to take any BS."

And that really was his greatest gift to all of us. Demanding the best. A no nonsense approach to encouraging excellence. And that would be enough. but it came with a smile...and what a lovely smile! It truly came from deep in his heart...anyone could see that. So bright like sunshine and so incredibly smart. I knew he would call out anything he felt wasn't 100%...and I just adored him for that commitment to integrity and doing things the right way. We should all be so lucky to have someone in our lives who challenges us all to be our very best selves.

The best compliment I have received in my role serving the Palisades is when George wrote me a short thank you note. It said "Good job!" I was having a horrible day, people were yelling and yet, I had a note from George Wolfberg that said I did a good job...I felt invincible! No one could say anything to make me feel otherwise.

George did so many wonderful things but I think they all really show through in Potrero Canyon Park. His love of nature, his sense of right and wrong, his dedication that it is a park for all Angelenos, his wanting to share the beach and the Palisades with any and everybody. I was just out there and the sun was so warm and bright, the ocean so vast, the sky so endless and blue...like George's smile...comforting, kind and 100% genuine.

Hoping that we all will be comforted by memories of George's kindness, and the legacy of his work and dedication to our city.


Posted by Michelle Bisnoff on February 5, 2020
On behalf of the Brentwood Community Council, please accept our deepest sympathy on the passing of the incomparable George Wolfberg. He was a great friend and a great leader.

Our last lunch was spent outside in the Palisades, we chatted for 2 hours and it seemed like 2 minutes and I want to remember him that day: smiling, with his sunglasses on, dishing on gossip from City Hall and writing little notes on my napkin - there were so many ideas and plans to think about for our neighborhoods. Thank you, George, you left great footprints to follow!
Posted by Anya McCann on February 5, 2020
On behalf of the Brentwood Community Council, please accept our deepest sympathies on the passing of your father. George was a great leader, an even greater friend, a deeply respected and beloved man. He was simply wonderful.

A Rabbi once said, "Try to be the things you loved about people who are gone" - George is someone who always made you want to be better and do better. He will be deeply missed.

May his memory be a blessing.

Michelle Bisnoff
Chair
Brentwood Community Council
Posted by Paul Hittelman on February 5, 2020
Dear Anya,

Thank you for sending the message about George which I both dreaded and expected.

Please accept and give to Diane and the entire family my sincere condolences on your loss of a most extraordinary, inspirational mensch of a man, your father, my friend, and a most special brother to so many of us. 

George and I met at college, long before we could vote, but learned quickly we were the sons of doctors and shared many interests including sports, cars and, no surprise, surfing. Shared political and social justice views followed soon.

We connected over the years through the fraternity and, later, when George joined our fitness group, Shape Up.  George persevered through his good times and bad to continue his activity with our shrinking group.  I marveled at his tenacity and determination to overcome a seemingly endless chain of health challenges.  Just to see him run down the track brought a lump to my throat. Remembering his characteristic straight armed gait brings both a smile and tears. 

In fact, I’m sadly surprised that he didn’t beat off his latest illness with an effort of sheer will.

George met every challenge with intelligence, intensity, enthusiasm, his broad smile and good humor.  We’ve all lost an exceptional friend. I shall miss him deeply.

Please share this message with Diane, David and Michael and accept my appreciation and respect for all that you and they have done to fill George’s days with love and comfort.

Sincerely,

Paul


Posted by Anya McCann on February 5, 2020
Posted to the Pacific Palisades Community Council email list:

With profound sorrow, Pacific Palisades Community Council announces the passing, after long illness, of esteemed PPCC Chair Emeritus George Wolfberg.

George was a long-time community activist, dedicated environmentalist, respected National Soccer Referee, UCLA Bruin enthusiast, gardener, chef and of course, loving family man. He was a cherished friend and mentor to countless Palisadians and colleagues throughout the City of Los Angeles. A proud recipient of the PPCC Community Service Award (2008), Citizen of the Year (2011) and Pride of the Palisades (2019) honors, George was the epitome of responsible leadership and dedicated service to his beloved Santa Monica Canyon and the entire Palisades community. 

He first served as PPCC Chair from 2002-2004 and was elected again to the position in 2018 and 2019 (the first and only person to serve three+ terms as Chair). For six consecutive terms (12 years), he was elected by a wide margin as the At-Large representative for the entire community on the PPCC Board. Since 2004, he served as Chair of the Potrero Canyon Community Advisory Committee (a Brown-Acted committee appointed in the fall of that year by Los Angeles City Council and approved by the Mayor), which issued its report with recommendations for the proposed Canyon park in 2008. Since then, George never paused in his efforts to ensure that the park would become a reality for all. 

A long-time active board member and past Chair of the Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association, he was a vital and respected leader of both PPCC and SMCCA. George established good relationships with elected officials, managers and workers in many jurisdictions and agencies. They seemed to welcome his calls, requests and inputs on behalf of our community. Often, a call from George would generate quick results.

One of the hallmarks of George's leadership style was to make everyone feel that they could speak and would be heard. When he received the Citizen of the Year award, George characteristically remarked: "The roulette wheel stopped on my number . . . I just happened to be lucky, it could have been probably half the people in this room." One of his guiding principles was summed up in his favorite quote: “You can quit when you die. Never, ever give up.”

George’s vast knowledge, un-flagging enthusiasm, optimism, tenacity, humility, guidance and friendship will be sorely missed by all who had the privilege of working with and knowing him. 

The PPCC Board extends our deepest sympathies to George’s wife Diane, his children and his many extended family members.

Will Rogers once said: “We can’t all be heroes because
somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.”

We clap for George!
Posted by Anya McCann on February 5, 2020
"My most sincere condolences to you and your family. George will forever hold a special place in my heart - a man I truly loved with utter respect and affection for who he was and how he treated the world around him. He was as special as they come and he will be in my thoughts forever. May he Rest In Peace."
Maryam Zar
Posted by Katherine Saltzberg on February 5, 2020
That smile! What a smile! My parents, Hugo and Joy adored you. I hope and pray that you are cutting in on their ballroom dancing right now!

I don't have a specific memory other than tremendous feelings of gratitude and joy. Kind and loving eyes. We remember how people made us feel and the times I did see you will forever live in my heart. Thank you for your warmth and kindness. I have an image of you at my Mom's 80th. I think you were wearing a very dapper hat. What I remember absolutely is your perfect smile. May your Family take comfort in all of the memories you made for them.

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Recent Tributes
Posted by Song Oh on February 13, 2020
In writing this tribute, I am recalling a quote from Maya Angelou about people not remembering what you said or did but will remember how you made them feel. This is particularly apt for me as my memory is dimming slowly but surely. I am humbled by all the tributes to George before mine speaking to the ways that George touched and helped so many. The thing I will never forget is how George made me feel welcome in his home, how his cooking made me feel nourished and cared for and the smile and laughter that made me feel I was in a safe space to be myself. George, despite my failing memory, I will remember for the rest of my life how you made me feel that I mattered as a fellow human traveler.
Posted by M. Wolfberg on February 13, 2020
The shiva is over and I thought I would share some fond memories of my Uncle George ע"ה. The following thoughts I share with you all as they come to mind; the thoughts are not necessarily in chronological order nor are they in order of importance or meaningfulness to me.

Recently, I heard the John Williams theme to the 1984 Olympics and my mind traveled back 35+ years to that amazing summer in LA. Uncle George got us tickets to a preview of the opening ceremony. As a historical side note, I remember everyone cheering when the Romanian team passed, as this was during the height of the cold war.

We enjoyed the Olympic games very much, besides the fact that Uncle George was instrumental in bringing the games to LA, I am sure that we benefited personally from being related to him. Uncle George got me an official orange Olympics jacket (it was so 1980's) which I wore proudly, etc. We also had fun trading Olympic pins. We were able to buy a surplus flag pole and many surplus international flags too which may have been due to Uncle George's insider knowledge.

Growing up I remember the funny license plates "5NOFISH" which was followed by "NOFISH2" which were probably a mystery to all but the closest of family members. I remember the long Passover seders led by Uncle George at the "other Wolfbergs'" house.

I remember a road trip to Northern California where I made Uncle George laugh with a play-on-words which can't be repeated here. I remember being proud of the fact that I made Uncle George laugh.

Later I became a police officer in Culver City and Uncle George was very proud of me. Once, when Uncle George was being honored in City Hall, and I was a cop at the time, I came down and Uncle George proudly introduced me as his nephew who was a CCPD officer (there is video of that event somewhere in CSPAN heaven...)

Later I became an orthodox Jew and Uncle George was very supportive.  Once he and Aunt Diane slept the night in my apartment in upstate New York, it was an honor for me, and Aunt Diane taught me the easy way to put on a duvet cover.  I remember introducing Uncle George to my Rabbi; it was Purim, and we had to run over to the Rabbi to greet him, Uncle George was 100% game as we ran quickly to greet the Rabbi.

He, Aunt Diane, Anya and her then husband Rabbi Jason came to my wedding in New York in 2003 and Uncle George took a lot of pictures with his new-fangled digital camera. In fact, I learned my photographic style, if I have any, from Uncle George, especially in regards to his habit of taking zoomed candid shots. 

As my family grew, קע"ה Uncle George was very proud of me. He told me last year that he met up with a cop friend of mine. Uncle George asked the cop how many kids he had (2, I believe) and then Uncle George proudly told him "Well, my nephew's got 6!"

I remember once going with Uncle George and my father, יבדל בין חיים לחיים to shul in LA on their father's yortzeit, and the Rav invited me to speak to the minyan between Mincha and Ma'ariv and Uncle George was very proud.

I always felt that Uncle George had nachas from his great nieces and nephews (among those, my children) who carry the names of his parents and grandparents.

I got to say goodbye to Uncle George this past Chanukah. He was having trouble finding an appetite to eat, and I asked him if he wanted a jelly doughnut in honor of Chanukah, which he did. We bought him the jelly doughnut; that was the last time I saw Uncle George. We ended on a sweet note....



Posted by Barbara McCann on February 13, 2020
My early experience with George's enthusiasm and openness was shortly after his daughter Anya married my brother, Richard. I live on the East Coast so I had met George just once (at the wedding?), and we had talked about the pedestrian safety advocacy work he was doing in Los Angeles. I work in this field (having started the Complete Streets movement), so I talk to a lot of people that share this passion, and I was pleased he was involved. Some months later, I got a long email in my professional account about progress in pedestrian advocacy in Los Angeles. I didn't recognize the name, but what really pulled me up short is that it was signed, "Hugs, George." Who did I know professionally well enough to hug? It finally dawned on me and I realized that this is where Anya got her embracing style and her own enthusiasm for changing the world. 

From everything I learned about George since then, I know his impact will reverberate for many years. He had a great combination of passion and optimism that we all should emulate.
his Life

Biking in LA Blog: Bike and civic giant George Wolfberg dies

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Giants are usually invisible.

You seldom notice them hiding among the rest of us, doing the same things we do.

Until one falls. And it’s felt all over the city.

Like my friend George Wolfberg, an invisible giant of the Los Angeles bicycling community.

And virtually every other community in the City of Angels.

It was just yesterday, flipping the pages of the LA Times, that I recognized Wolfberg’s face looking back at me from the obituary pages, and learned he’d passed away last week after an extended illness at the age of 82.

His death did not go unnoticed in Pacific Palisades, where he was a longtime resident, chair emeritus of the community council, and the former leader of the Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association.

I first met the longtime bicycle and community advocate nearly a dozen years ago, when he was fighting a battle to extend the beachfront Marvin Braude bike path to Malibu.

One he ultimately lost to a group of fellow advocates who preferred the danger of keeping bicyclists on deadly PCH to the optics of such an expensive bikeway project.

But George quickly got me involved in other projects, from joining the PCH Task Force to represent the needs on bike riders on the dangerous corridor, to connecting me with just the right people in the city and county governments to get finally piles of sand swept off the beachfront path months after a storm.

Which wouldn’t have happened without Wolfberg’s help.

Because George Wolfberg knew almost everyone at every level of the city, county and state governments. And even set up meetings with state Assembly Members and Senators to present my approach to halting hit-and-runs.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to convince them at the time that hit-and-run was that big a problem.

I wonder if they get it now.

For years, I could count on finding links to some bicycling story or another from the Wall Street Journal or New York Times popping up in my inbox on a regular basis, with the email address invariably leading back to him.

And he never missed contributing to this site’s holiday fundraiser every year; it breaks my heart to think this last one was, in fact, the last one.

But that’s the funny thing about giants.

They don’t always tell you they are one. Or why.

I’d known for some time that George Wolfberg was one of the first members of the Los Angeles Bicycle Advocacy Committee.

But it wasn’t until yesterday that I learned he’d also served on the LA County BAC. Or that there even was an LACBAC.

I was familiar with the late LA bike legend Alex Baum’s work to bring the ’84 Olympic Games to Los Angeles, and that he was instrumental in bringing women’s cycling to the Games for the first time.

But I never knew Wolfberg had worked hand-in-glove with him, writing the original proposal for the Games that forced the International Olympic Committee’s hand by including women’s cycling as a demonstration sport.

Or that he was instrumental in bringing the World Cup to Los Angeles in ’94. Let alone that he fought the horrific South African apartheid by working to get the city to divest from the racially divided county, later earning thanks from Nelson Mandela himself.

And worked just as hard for the residents of South LA, setting up a meals program for soccer playing kids who didn’t get enough to eat at home.

George never told me any of that. Or the countless other civic and athletic accomplishments on his resume that have made this city a better place for all of us.

Because that’s not what giants do.

I am poorer today, because I lost a friend and ally.

But more importantly, this city is poorer because it lost a true giant of a community leader. A man who did everything Los Angeles asked of him, then kept on doing more.

We will all miss George Wolfberg, even if most of us will never know it.

May his memory be a blessing for all of us.

Photo from Pacifica Palisades Community Council

Obituary for George Sander Wolfberg

George Sander Wolfberg, b. April 22, 1938, was born and has lived his entire life in Los Angeles. He is survived by wife of 55 years, Diane (Davis) Wolfberg, daughter Anya McCann (and Richard McCann), sons David (and Lin Lin Oo) and Michael Wolfberg, grandsons Yeshaia van Leeuwen, Alex Wolfberg and Jonah Wolfberg, and granddaughter Avital van Leeuwen. He is also survived by brother Theodore (Ted) Wolfberg and sisters Jacqueline Smith and Saundra Wolfberg and seven nieces and nephews. George was 81 and died peacefully at home on February 5, 2020.

He was an All City swimmer at Los Angeles High School and received a BS in Political Science from the University of California, at Los Angeles in 1961 and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Southern California in 1971. He also served his country in the Air National Guard (from 1961-1967) where he learned how to volunteer. He was a Daily Bruin staff writer and staunch supporter of Bruin athletics. He held season basketball tickets for over 60 years, was a regular attendee of women’s and men’s soccer, and volunteered to gather statistics during football games at the Rose Bowl for over a decade. Through 2019 he was still meeting regularly with his Pi Lam fraternity brothers (for whom he served as President).

Wolfberg’s career was dedicated to the City of Los Angeles (City), beginning as a public pool lifeguard. At his retirement in 1996, he was a Chief Administrative Analyst in the City Administrative Office, well known by mayors and city council members going back to the administration of C. Norris Poulson. His college roommate was longtime City Councilman Joel Wachs, who says: “In City Hall, George was a rock of integrity and a font of knowledge which I and others who cared about our city always relied upon.”

Wolfberg considered one of his career highlights to be oversight of the City’s selective contracting policy to bring pressure upon South Africa to end apartheid, for which Nelson Mandela came to Los Angeles to specifically give thanks. Wolfberg prepared the City’s successful bid to host the 1984 Olympics and traveled alongside David Wolper to serve as subject matter expert on the City’s facilities. He obtained one of the first personal computers purchased by the City to prepare the 1984 Olympics budget. He also contributed hundreds of volunteer hours to make the L.A. Olympics a success and ensured upgrades were in place throughout the City in preparation for the games.

He is responsible for the birth of women’s Olympic cycling, which came about due to language he added committing the city and the IOOC to present the women’s road race as an exhibition sport. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will feature eleven women’s cycling events. George was also part of the committee working for years to secure the 1994 World Cup Soccer for Los Angeles, and traveled to the World Cup in Italy in 1990 to research facility needs.

Wolfberg worked closely with friend Ellen Stern Harris, who created the California Coastal Conservation Act establishing the California Coastal Commission and guarantees that Californians can access and enjoy our coastline and beaches. He campaigned against private beachfront property that would limit such access.

Wolfberg was an enthusiastic longboard surfer and there was a saying in his office when he took an occasional sick day: “Surf’s up!” He kept in touch with many of his former staff.

After retiring, George was recruited by Raphael Sonenshein to provide his expertise to the Los Angeles Appointed Charter Reform Commission, which, along with the Los Angeles Elected Charter Reform Commission that operated simultaneously and with the same mandate, created a "unified charter" proposal for the 1999 ballot. It resulted in the first successful and comprehensive update to the city's 1925 charter.

The new Charter enacted the creation of a citywide system of neighborhood councils with the goal of promoting public participation in City governance and decision-making process to create a government more responsive to local needs. Wolfberg served on the boards of both the Pacific Palisades Community Council (PPCC, 16 years) and the Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association (more than 20 years). He led the communities where he lived in improvements in infrastructure and guiding land-use issues, preserving and creating public park lands and a historical eucalyptus grove, creating new systems to support those living without homes, and improvements in safety, aircraft noise pollution, and sustainability. He served on the Potrero Canyon Community Advisory Committee, working on this issue for decades. He has advocated for greater public access to beaches via this future City park, including a bridge over PCH to link the beach bike path to the park for pedestrians and cyclists.

Lisa Cahill, Brentwood-Palisades Deputy-EnvironmentalLiaison, Councilmember Mike Bonin said:“My understanding is that George headed up the Potrero committee as its Chairman.Since the submission of the recommendations report in 2008, George has worked to ensure that the committee's recommendations were heard by all the City departments, helping to hold them accountable, to ensure that the final project honored the community's desires. More than being merely representative of the community's requests, however, George had a vision and an adherence to the creation of a public park that will serve everyone in LA. I think his love of the ocean and being outdoors helps motivate him---I get the feeling that he wanted to share this beautiful part of the world with everyone. I deeply admire his intelligence and dedication to what makes sense. He had a tenacity in standing up for what is fair and right, and is deeply committed to public safety. Most importantly I think, is George's ability to simultaneously advocate for his fellow Palisadians, while never wavering that this will be a park for all Angelenos.

“I personally would have been lost without George and the members of this committee, andI often use George's smile and his approval as a type of barometer, to know that I am doing a good job and that we were on the right path. The best thank you note I ever got from any constituent is one from George.All it said was "Good job!" I absolutely treasure it.

“As for other projects, there are so many. I know he has been tremendously instrumental in helping on the PCH Taskforce.”

Wolfberg worked closely with Councilman Mike Bonin’s office and was completely dedicated to issues before the PPCC. In August 2019, while in the ICU, he was texting and emailing key City staff and officials to encourage their attendance to vote to fund a new skateboard park at the beach at the bottom of Temescal Canyon, an historic skating site.

Mike Bonin said: “I, the community, and the City of Los Angeles that he served so damn well for so damn long love him. I am so deeply indebted to him for his leadership and his service -- and for the manner in which he led and served. From project after project, issue after issue, George has led and served with fierce determination, great warmth, big goals, and a smart and specific vision to achieve those goals. He has been a friend, mentor and inspiration to more people than we can count.”

He advocated with the City for years to identify and mitigate sources of bad health grades at Will Rogers State Beach, ultimately getting a bad sewage pipe replaced and sewage rerouted to the El Segundo treatment plant.

George served the community as a volunteer in many capacities. In the 1960s he and his wife, Diane, volunteered with Fair Housing doing sting operations on racist landlords by approaching them with housing applications after the landlords had unlawfully turned down applications by persons of color.

He was a driving force in AYSO Region 69, serving in various positions from coach and referee to Registrar and board member for 45 years. He became a nationally ranked referee who was still refereeing soccer games for teenagers at the time of his 80th birthday. He recruited many parents in the region to train as referees and coaches. He served on both the LA City and LA County Bicycle Advisory Committees, about 25 years apart.

He worked with Santa Monica Canyon and Rustic Canyon residents to restore the historic Uplifters Ranch eucalyptus grove and hand watered new trees there to nurture them for many years.

He was also appointed by the City as commissioner of the Watts Friendship Sports League following the 1992 riots. He served for ten years and raised over $100,000 in funding. It was the first youth sports league sponsored by the City. An example of his forward thinking, he created a program to serve free breakfast to all of the participants before sports started on the weekends.

A final impact Wolfberg made was to elevate the need for a comprehensive urban forest plan, leading to the August 2019 appointment of Rachel Malarich as the City’s first Forest Officer, a cornerstone to what’s being called L.A.’s New Green Deal and is tasked with reaching the goal to plant 90,000 trees by 2021.

Family and friends knew Wolfberg as something of a renaissance man. An avid chef who could recreate international feasts, he was also a ceramic artist at the Venice Pot Shop (a cooperative) as well as a Malibu Surfrider Beach longboard surfer in the 1960s and 1970s.

Funeral services were held on February 7 at Home of Peace Memorial Park. George can be remembered through donations to Planned Parenthood.

Recent stories

Raphael Sonenshein - Remembering George Wolfberg (Charter Commission)

Shared by Anya McCann on February 13, 2020
Remembering George Wolfberg
Our paths crossed for the first time in a moment of crisis for the City of Los Angeles.  With the city on the verge of breaking apart, with discontent in all corners and secession movements on the rise, city leaders determined that a bold reform of the city charter would help create a more responsive and effective city government.  The mayor and the city council were in conflict with each other about how to accomplish this goal, and ultimately two competing charter reform commissions were created: one appointed (the council’s), and one elected (the mayor’s).  By 1997, both commissions had been formed and got under way in a two-year process.
I was selected to head the staff of the appointed commission in early 1997.  As a professor of political science and student of Los Angeles government, I quickly discovered that I still had a lot to learn about the inside ways of city hall.  Rich Hart in the CAO’s office suggested that I reach out to a senior CAO official who was retiring named George Wolfberg.  After a distinguished career in city leadership, George had plans to travel with his wife Diane and to enjoy the good life.  
When we sat down he had the relaxed mien of someone who was ready to leave government behind and pursue his many other interests.  I told him that the immense task ahead was critical to the city’s future and that I needed him to be a guide and a leader for our growing and young staff.  George agreed to come on board as senior policy and research director, as long as he and Diane could take a planned vacation I believe in September.  I immediately agreed, and said we would always work around his post-retirement schedule.  
We had rough and ready offices on the first floor of the Department of Water and Power.  Our staff leadership, including our distinguished chair George Kieffer, George, deputy director and chief counsel Mary Strobel, and communications director Julie Benson were to be together for the next two years.  
George was a fount of wisdom about the workings of city hall, as well as a guide to city commission operations.  He knew which buttons to push to get things done at city hall, which for a temporary commission with often shaky political support, was essential.  At his urging, I stayed close to the legendary Chief Legislative Analyst, Ron Deaton, who never failed to support our commission.  George helped me keep in touch with his former boss, CAO Keith Comrie, who became another strong supporter. Those were the two top staff members at city hall.
George was an outstanding researcher ad policy thinker, and helped us build and maintain our credibility at city hall and in the community as a solid, reliable source of information about the issues of city governance.  He also embodied the strength and integrity of the permanent city government, the appointed and civil service members who keep the lights on, and ensure the delivery of city services.  There was much debate during charter reform about the role of the CAO’s office, and there were calls to restrict the office’s independence.  We successfully resisted that pressure, and preserved the CAO.  In addition to all the good government arguments for that position, we had on our staff a stellar symbol of that office in George Wolfberg.  Because of George, that office was never an abstraction to us, but a reality.
George was always a fount of good advice, but I think my favorite was delivered on a day when I truly needed a boost.  We had a wonderful commission, and our staff was almost always in sync with them.  But in one case, I made what I thought was a terrific staff recommendation, and the commissioners turned it down flat.  I was dejected.  George conveyed to me an essential aspect of the staff role in government when he said, “Raphe, we made the best recommendation.  The commission made the best decision.”  It has been more than 20 years, and I have worked with numerous charter reform commissions since then, and I have never forgotten that essential insight.  I sometimes quote it to young people navigating their staff role in the offices of elected officials and I never fail to tell it to charter commissioners.
In addition to the generosity of spirit that George brought to his work, and the exceptional career he pursued at the CAO’s office, George had many interests outside of city hall.  I enjoyed hearing about his outdoor activities, his love of biking, and his devotion to his family and community.  When we were exploring the creation of a pathbreaking neighborhood council system, George invited me to attend a meeting of the community organization he valued in Pacific Palisades.  We spent a delightful and illuminating afternoon talking about neighborhood participation, an experience that helped inform the system we eventually created.
George was with us at the rocky beginning, and when we downsized near the end to our key staff, and when George Kieffer and elected commission chair Erwin Chemerinsky negotiated a unified charter, and when the city council placed it on the ballot, and when the voters passed it with more than 60% of the vote in 1999, the first comprehensive charter reform of LA city government in 75 years, George was there to enjoy the fruits of his labor.  
I will miss George, and our conversations about city hall, about community life, about family, and about just about everything.  It was an honor to work with him and a pleasure to know him.
Raphael Sonenshein, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs: Unleashing the Power of Public Participation, February 13, 2020

Contentious Sidewalks

Shared by Emile Levisetti on February 6, 2020
I originally met George about 7-8 years ago. We both attended one of the first meetings at the Canyon School about a possible sidewalk. As most in the Canyon know this became a somewhat contentious issue. But George never really got ruffled. He was a great source of advice and information for the entire community about how the city worked. He was level headed and a steady hand at times when passions were running high. More than anything he kept his trademark smile and wry sense of humor about the whole thing. What a relief he was.

My experience with George is alas limited to the SMCCA Board and community activism, it was not as deep as many here will be. I wish it bad been. He was a tremendous motivator and organizer. It was the first time I witnessed community politics and activism.  George worked tirelessly to improve the conditions of our neighborhood for all. His input, experience, camaraderie, willingness, and presence will be sorely missed. I will miss his smile, and gentle encouragement.