By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
Long-time community activist and Pacific Palisades Community Council Chair Emeritus George Wolfberg died Wednesday, February 5, after battling a long illness.
“George was a long-time community activist, dedicated environmentalist, respected National Soccer Referee, UCLA Bruin enthusiast, gardener, chef and of course, loving family man,” the community council shared in a statement. “He was a cherished friend and mentor to countless Palisadians and colleagues throughout the city of Los Angeles.”
Wolfberg, born April 22, 1938, spent his entire life in Los Angeles. His family shared he was a competitive athlete at Los Angeles High School, and he received a Bachelor of Science in political science at UCLA and a Master of Public Administration from USC.
He then launched into a career dedicated to the city of LA, eventually retiring as the chief administrative analyst in the City Administrative Office—the highest non-appointed position.
According to family members, Wolfberg considered one of his career highlights to be oversight of LA’s successful divestment from South Africa under apartheid, which prompted a visit from Nelson Mandela to thank the city. He also contributed hundreds of hours to prepare the city’s bid to win the 1984 Olympics.
After his retirement, Wolfberg served on the City Charter Commission, creating the new charter adopted in 2000, which enacted the creation of a citywide system of neighborhood councils.
In the Palisades, Wolfberg served on the board of PPCC for 16 years, as chair from 2002-04 and returning to the position in 2018 and 2019. He also served six consecutive terms as the at-large representative and since 2004, as chair of the Potrero Canyon Community Advisory Committee, working on the issue for decades.
Lisa Cahill, Brentwood-Palisades deputy-environmental liaison for Councilmember Mike Bonin, shared that Wolfberg worked to ensure the committee’s recommendations were heard by all the city departments, holding them accountable to ensure the final project honored the community’s desires.
“George did so many wonderful things but I think they all really show through in Potrero Canyon Park,” Cahill shared. “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.”
Wolfberg was also an active board member and past chair of the Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association, serving for 20 years.
“I am so deeply indebted to him for his leadership and his service—and for the manner in which he led and served,” Bonin shared. “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 friend, mentor and inspiration to more people than we can count.”
Wolfberg was recently honored in December 2019 with the Pride of the Palisades award, bestowed by PPCC at its annual awards celebration and holiday meeting.
Following Jewish tradition, the family held a memorial and burial services on Friday, February 7, before beginning their formal mourning period.
Wolfberg is survived by his wife, Diane, and children. Donations in his memory may be made to Planned Parenthood.
The Wolfberg family requested that those with memories to share please post them at forevermissed.com/george-wolfberg.