I was one of the many people who thought of Tom as a friend. He called me, “Number One” as I had been the first public visitor to the re-opening of the Griffith Park Observatory. We both hiked the park every day and invariably, he saw me before I saw him and I would hear, “Hey, Number One!” The last time I heard him call out to me was the day before he passed away. I felt broken-hearted when I got the news and will miss him every time I go for a walk in Griffith Park. Please accept my condolences that I am extending to his nuclear family as well as the thousands of his extended family. The world was a better place with Tom in it.
Dear Brigid, Charles, Mary Cate and Family:
My heart is broken that we have lost Tom way too soon. He truly was the “heart” of the city and worked tirelessly to make the city a better place. I was able to know him as a child and then later as a dedicated public servant. His actions and dedication will always be remembered. When we can all come together, I hope we can and truly have a celebration for the man that Tom was and how many lives he touched.
He was “one-of-a-kind” and a God-given blessing to his community.
Dear Brigid, Charles, Mary Cate and Family,
Thank you for sharing Tom with us in the City of Los Angeles. I am one of the many City employees he lifted up every single day. I met him when I was working on revitalizing the Los Angeles River and he was so supportive and enthusiastic about everything we did – he showed up to every event (even if it wasn’t in his Council District, which other members usually didn’t do), he always called out staff and made them join in the photos with the VIPs, he brought foreign dignitaries to our river and made it seem like the most important thing in the world. He is the reason we were able to travel to Europe to meet with experts in other cities to learn about their river efforts – he made us feel like royalty in his beloved Berlin and he expanded our Sister River efforts to raise the profile of our work globally. Someone gave him a fantastic “Los Angeles River” sign that had fallen down which he had in his office and he gave it to me. He always remembered my name and made a point of calling me “Dr. Armstrong” in public (I didn’t use it, but he know about my Ph.D. and it always made me feel special.). If he had a problem with something, he would take me to see it and talk about solutions. He always made time for visitors and walked them to the top of City Hall to show them how glorious our city is from the air – pointing out the Hollywood sign, the Observatory and so many other places that he loved. I know how much he loved his city and his family (I met some of you briefly in Berlin and could see how proud he was of all of you.). Please accept my sincere sympathy and condolences. May his memory be a blessing.
With much love,
After redistricting in 2011, my district included some new areas, and one of the first calls I got was from Tom LaBonge. Tom was the city councilmember for these communities and he offered to take me on a drive and introduce me to some of my potential new constituents and neighborhoods.
I’ve fondly looked back on that day as “Tom’s Wild Ride.” We got in his car early in the morning, and spent most of the day driving around the district, finding potholes that needed fixing, driving up to people’s houses for introductions, and talking about the issues.
On our way up a steep hill in Griffith Park, Tom slowed the car down as we passed four cyclists and rolled down the window. “Do you know who this is?,” he called out to the bikers, as they struggled up the incline. “This is your Congressman!”
When we spotted a fire-truck by the side of the road, Tom pulled over again and introduced me to each of the firefighters. “Do you know what that utility box is at the top of the street?,” the firefighters were asking Tom, not the other way around. And, of course, Tom had the answer.
Later, he stopped to take debris out of a creek, and gave me the history of the waterway.
That’s just the type of man Tom was – down-to-earth, selfless, deeply caring, and intently focused on the needs of his community. Nobody knew his constituents better, and no constituents knew their councilmember better. And that’s the way Tom liked it.
There won’t ever be another like Tom, whose heart was as big as a mountain and whose love of Los Angeles was without limit. He wore that heart on his sleeve, and, tragically, as big as it was, and as beautiful it was, it could carry on no longer. Our entire community mourns for him, for his wonderful wife, Brigid, and for their beautiful and loving family.
Thanks, Congressman Schiff for sharing your time with Tom. He was quite inspirational as you are also, thanks for your service.
It was a privilege and a delight to know Tom, as we did for many years, and great fun to see Los Angeles through his eyes, as we occasionally did, driving around and dropping in on people – he knew everyone it seemed – and on the city’s hidden treasures. As diplomats we valued his understanding and nurturing of the city’s rich international connections, and particularly his support of BritWeek from the moment we launched it in 2007. There never was a kinder, bigger hearted person, nor a more infectious enthusiast for life and the City of Angels.
Councilman LaBonge (Mr. LA) was a mentor – teaching us the “Tom Bradley” style that “availability was the best ability,” a TRUE public servant – regardless of his title, he served LA from taking over as a Channel 35 reporter or removing street trash, a PR machine – introducing everyone like they were a king or queen, a public speaking coach – usually done by dragging you to a crowd and a microphone, a tour guide – even when you didn’t want to take an unplanned tour to the other side of town, and free “Uber Driver” – then joining you at the event or meeting uninvited.
Tom had a way of busting into your life or any space to push his agenda – loving LA and bringing the world together. For every unexpected visit, especially when we were his CD4 constitutes (Sunday morning door knocks with a camera in hand for an unplanned photo) followed by the words, “boom, boom,” we went with it because we knew it was special. BTW, if anyone finds a photo of me standing outside of my house with pj’s, no shoes and a loaf of bread know that was a Tom Holiday Special.
Tom also showed up when you needed him too, like when I served as a new Neighborhood Prosecutor and found myself at a tough community meeting or when he brought the light of cheer to my 40th birthday party during a terrible rain storm. He even introduced me and my newborn son to then US Senator Barack Obama. Even days before his departure to represent the City of Angeles with the true angels, he saw me on Channel 35, took a photo of the moment, and fired off an email offering to help us deal with civil rights issues in LA. Tom was always there for us and LA. In a spontaneous way, he showed up in heaven and it broke our hearts. Now, we celebrate his life and try to comfort Brigid and “the kids,” whom he loved dearly. However, the thought of him in heaven with his brothers, the tough school day nuns, and giving out double cheek greets pre-COVID style should bring us some comfort. We will NEVER forget Tom – he wouldn’t let us forget him anyway. If you ever need to feel Tom, do one or more of these things: take photos of landmarks, ask strangers where they went to high school, eat a Pink’s hotdog, make a new friend from another country, visit the LAFD station near the Watts Tower with a bucket of ice cream for a surprise “just because” moment of joy, pick up trash in front of a school or park, crash a community meeting and acknowledge everyone in the room, or go to a college football game to meet new friends and ignore the game, or drop in on folks eating on Larchmont Blvd.
Before I met Tom, Stacey (Greenwood) described him as her “larger than life” boss in the Riordan Administration. Tom was larger than life, and he made all of our lives better. In his memory, we should all keep on loving LA and bringing people together – oh, and be sure to know all the high school mascots too!
Hi Capri, thanks for sharing your beautiful memories of Tom.
Tom was truly one of the BIGGEST if not THE BIGGEST cheerleaders Los Angeles ever had. LA trivia? Who knew more than Tom. It was almost a ritual to provide an answer to a Tom LaBonge LA trivia question before the start of a committee meeting. The Tom LaBonge Summit is a fitting tribute to the man. He will forever be looking over all of the growing bits of information brewing in his beloved Los Angeles. Peace and blessings to Tom and his family.
The Overland Avenue Community thanks Tom for advocating the downgrade of our street in December, 2004 from a secondary highway to a collector street.
On a personal note, I was part of Tom’s Marshall HS graduating class of ’71, and we will miss seeing him at the 50 year HS reunion this year (or as soon as the reunion takes place). He’d grab that microphone at each 10 year reunion and never let go! It was something we all treasured and enjoyed…he was the greatest cheerleader for Marshall, Griffith Park, and the entire City of Los Angeles.
My deepest condolences to Tom’s family. When I think of Los Angeles, I think Tom LaBonge. He was a true icon in our city. I was fortunate enough when Tom asked our garden club members to take a personal tour to the Hollywood Sign. As we climbed the mountain, he spoke to everyone walking the trail along the way. He loved Griffith Park and his city. Our good will ambassador made us feel incredibly special that day. I will always remember his kindness and warm heart. Los Angeles will not be the same without our beloved Tom.
Consul General, Royal Thai Consulate-General
I have learned with profound sadness of the passing away of the Honorable Tom LaBonge. He was a good friend of Thailand and will be remembered with fond memories for his proactive role in promoting a cordial relationship between Los Angeles and Bangkok and his enthusiastic support to Thai Community in Los Angeles in every way.
So saddened by Tom LaBonge’s passing. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of and boundless passion for L.A., and his enthusiasm was infectious. He did so much good for our City – and he did it with love. I was personally lucky to have some wonderful outings with him where he took me to see the back of the Hollywood sign, the shortest street in Los Angeles, his favorite hangouts to eat, and so much more. Nobody knew Los Angeles like my friend Tom LaBonge did. He will be missed.
My deepest sympathy to the LaBonge family. Tom had the same energy and dedication whether he was helping an individual or an entire community. He supported both practical and noble causes and his happy spirit was contagious. I loved running into him at Gelson’s, getting a quick hello while on my daily walks, participating is his Summer Solstice hikes, and campaigning for his re-elections. He inspired you to be a better person. May his memory be a blessing.
I met Tom once when he came with ideas and hands open to help with a family issue. I will never forget the generosity of spirt and inventiveness of this man. I send my heartfelt condolences and prayers for his family.
I first met Tom at a fire scene. He asked me if I was related to Frank the police Captain. From then on I would see him at almost every large fire in Hollywood. He visited all of the stations in Hollywood, where he was loved by all of the Fire family. I took many hikes up to the summit with him where everybody always had a welcome “Good morning.” I hope that you will find a safe place to keep his weathered, scuffed-up football, for all to see and remember him. I was pleasured to have been lucky enough to carry it for a few yards. There should be a statue at the summit of him holding that football, that was truly his companion that took him up that hill so many times. God Bbess you Tom, the Fire Department and the Police Department will be there for your memorial whenever we can safely get together.
I would like to express my deepest condolences for the passing of the LA Councilman Tom LaBonge. His passing was the greatest loss for all of us at LANSCA.
Tom had been our mentor to promote the relationship between Los Angeles and Nagoya. One of our fondest memories is traveling to Nagoya together. No matter how busy he was, he had always attended and participated in our events. I cannot express my gratitude for what he had done for us in words.
I know he will look upon us from heaven. May the memories of his wonderful personality and many contributions be celebrated by all.
I met Tom when I was the Executive Director of the Woman’s Club of Hollywood, CA. He attended most of the events we had and supported the WCH. During the holidays he came bearing gifts of pumpkin bread he got from the nuns at the Monastery of the Angels. My last meeting with Tom was when Joan Collins and I went to see him in his last year as our Councilman about reorganizing the Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service starting it up again. He was packing his office and we went through the many photos he had on his walls. I recall we joked about him becoming the honorary mayor of Hollywood. He was clearly all things Hollywood. He loved its history and supported all Hollywood organizations and events. He touched all our lives in one way or the other and he will be missed. We loved his photographs and miss his annual calendar. Though never formalized he will remain Hollywood’s honorary Mayor always. May he rest in peace.
While I never met Mr. LaBonge personally, I took the minutes for about seven years for the Hollywood West Neighborhood Council and he frequently showed up for their monthly board meetings so I knew him from that. He was a very likable person – very smart, kind, and helpful. And he obviously loved his community and the stakeholders he served. I was sorry to hear that he had passed. He was one of a kind!
I first heard of the saddened news of retired LA City Councilman Tom LaBonge when I was riding down La Brea Avenue in Hollywood and saw a sign on Pink’s Hot Dog Stand honoring him in passing. I had to pull over. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I said to myself, “Oh my God, not Tom LaBonge.” He was a just a great guy and so accessible as a city councilman in one of America’s largest cities. I remember us sitting at the closing ceremonies of the International World Special Olympics at the Los Angeles Colosseum. I’ve volunteered my time with the Special Olympics for many years and we had this in common. As we watched the ceremonies we shared and talked about many things. He was such an easy person to talk to and he really listened to what you had to say. We exchanged numbers and kept in touch. I last saw him at a ceremony outside LA City Hall honoring comedienne Tiffany Haddish, where R&B Grammy Singer Jeffrey Osbourne performed for a black history ceremony. He was in good spirits as always and very upbeat. We took a selfie together with my other celebrity film producer friend Clint Wallace. I grew up in North Carolina in the south and Tom LaBonge spirit was one that was down home and genuine. He was a real and straight shooter from the core. You couldn’t help but like the guy. I’m glad I met him on his journey in life. He definitely enhanced my life with him being in it. He will be sorely missed in this world. However, the world moves forward and is a better place because people like Tom LaBonge were in it. Rest in peace, my friend and may God Almighty grant your family peace, strength and tranquility.
ACTOR/WRITER AND BEST SELLING AUTHOR OF THE BOOK “HOW I WENT TO THE OSCARS WITHOUT A TICKET-TRUE STORY”
I met Tom during my tenure as President of LA Valley College. He was so helpful whenever we worked on projects together. He was always upbeat and cared so much for our City. He was a true joy to be around, and not only was he caring, he was one of the smartest people I knew. He is a light this City will miss.
Tom was the friendliest, most gregarious, mirthful politician Los Angeles has had. His humility is something rarely felt in other politicians. When I read of his passing on the NBC news website it was like a punch in the gut. Many have noted his love of Griffith Park, and it went all the way to his soul. I often ride a bike around his neighborhood, and you could often see him outside of his house on a conference call facing his beloved Mt Hollywood with a booming voice you imagine could be heard by Griffith Park itself. One day as I was cresting the hill near his house I heard, “Well, congratulations are in order, my friend.” I responded before I noticed Tom, “and to you as well, good sir.” Before I saw he was on the phone speaking to someone else. Tom always knew what to say, even if he wasn’t speaking to you directly. We will miss Tom very much in our neighborhood, and cherish the time we had with him. When it hurts so much, you know you lost a good one. Godspeed, Tom. Rest in peace.
Rest In Peace, Councilman Tom LaBonge.
A “force of nature” as his colleague @mitchofarrell described him. He loved LA and knew every building and historical fact about his city. He would ask constituents on the street, “What is your favorite building in LA?”. But most of all he loved Griffith Park—all of it, every day. It’s now 138 acres larger thanks to his efforts to acquire land near the Hollywood sign. A permanent tribute to his passion for the nation’s largest urban park. The trails leading up to its summit are surely missing a champion. I often crossed paths with him on his morning jaunts along those trails. I guess he’s up there where he loved, now as a permanent resident, with wings to match his hiking shoes.
I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Tom LaBonge. I remember him mostly as Councilman Tom LaBonge, as I was an attorney with the City Attorney’s Office during the time Tom served as chief of staff to Councilman Greig Smith, and then as Councilman himself. He was a great Councilman, truly loved the City of the Angels, and always upbeat and cheerful. He would always wave to me as I walked from City Hall to City Hall East and ask how I was doing. He valued City workers and was always, always respectful to all of us. He made a point of going to as many City retirements as he could; and when I retired from City service I was no exception. He showed up at my retirement, said kind words, and presented me with the bread from the nuns! I last saw him at a political fundraiser a few years back – and we had a fun time catching up. He is gone way too soon, and he will be missed.
Tom was a hurricane. He did everything as if the entire City depended on it. He was a mentor to me and always someone I could count on for a thrilling exchange. He loved his family, loved our City and loved his life. RIP, Tom. You will be missed.
My deepest condolences, my prayers on the behalf of the family and friends.
I only briefly met Tom at a dry cleaners in Silver Lake where I was getting free hangers for coats that were donated for a Girl Scout supported event. He asked what I was doing and when I told him I was a leader. He offered to take our girls to the Hollywood sign on a hike to show them the city. I regret not following up on it and making it happen. He was always a strong voice and cared deeply for our city. He will be missed.
Tom was my father’s hero. Frank Patchett believed the only person who loved the City of Los Angeles more than he did was Tom. Tom showed Dad so many kindnesses over the years, including helping plan the hike and tree planting on Mt. Hollywood for his memorial service. My family sends our love and gratitude to Tom’s family.
Condolences for your loss. Tom was my personal champion when I started my campaign for water fountains throughout LA and I will never forget his kindness and respect towards me. I feel privileged to have met him when I did and to have worked with him. He passed a resolution to help WeTap before anyone else and his generosity of spirit made a tremendous difference in my life. I videoed him and you can see it if you click on this link https://www.wetap.org/ and scroll down right below the top. I will never forget him. Much love. Evelyn.
Tom drove up in a yellow city utility truck, rolled up his sleeves, and helped us pick up all the bulky items on our street. He was no nonsense, a natural leader, warm and had a dry wit. I think he was happiest when he was totally involved and I think he should have stayed in his post. Never met anyone like him. I miss his presence.
LaBonge Family – I would like to extend my family’s heartfelt condolences on the passing of a great man, a civic treasure and a model of public service. Tom was a walking talking ball of light and love for the city and for anyone he came in contact with. In the rough and tumble world of politics, Tom was a beacon of decent and honest leadership. The roughly 3 million Angelenos owe him a tip of the cap, a standing ovation, and high fives. God bless you, Tom! Heaven is about to learn a lot about our great city!
When I met Tom LaBonge over 50 years ago I knew immediately that this kid was going to make his mark. This city has been diminished by his shocking passing. We will miss his energy, resolve and enthusiasm. My deepest condolences to Brigid and family, and a special thanks to our Mayor Eric Garcetti for his kindness to the LaBonge family, and to his part in making certain that Tom will get the recognition he deserves—ensuring that his name will always be remembered and connected to the city that he loved. Bob Levy, Westwood
Tom was certainly a man for the ages, he seemed to have boundless energy. He loved Los Angeles, he would tell me about his experience working for John Ferraro and loved being a city councilman. the first words from Tom when I met him five or six years ago was, “How can I help you?” Of course that was the first introduction I’d ever had like that, and probably the last. Tom was kind and generous, and caring of the park whose trails he’d hiked for forty years. A week before I heard the tragic and shocking news, he had met me and Pete at the Daily Doughnut for coffee and a chat outside. He didn’t stay long saying he wanted to meet his wife, and as he drove off in his black Ford Explorer, he said, “Thanks for being a good friend of Pete’s.” Always caring, always kind, always thinking of others.
I’m so sorry for your loss, he will be sorely missed.
Even if I am not from L.A. and not one of the Angelenos, Tom LaBonge loved and served with all his might. He still captivated mine and my family’s hearts by simply doing what he loved the most—being proud of L.A. and sharing it to us. My family’s amazing story of meeting him and connecting with him is quite lengthy and I have shared it to my network on January 12th via this Facebook post of our photos with him when we visited L.A. in 2011:
His kindness will be remembered forever! Much love and sympathy to his family!
We met Tom for the first time during the celebration for the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin on November 9, 2009. He made it happen to close Wilshire Blvd. for the night. It was a big success. A few years later he took the Mayor of a small German town all around LA, from the LA River to the Hollywood Sign. Tom had special keys to open the gate to go behind the huge letters. He spent the entire afternoon with the Mayor and us. This was Tom, generous and so welcoming to visitors from around the world. We will never forget that day.
Worked with Tom while he was on the City Council as a member of the CAO staff. I always appreciated how he was respectful and kind to staff. He always seemed honest and sincere in his role and his love of the city was delightful. He was a genuine nice person and will be missed.
I knew him as Mr LA history more than a Councilman. A rare talent these days.
My sympathy to your family. I met Councilman Tom through the LA Zoo and was instantly impressed. What a marvelous human he was with a spirit of positivity. May your family have strength as you learn to live without Tom and his positive attitude and love for Los Angeles.
Tom was the light that kept the Sister City glowing. This loss will be felt by the Sister City family for a long, long time.
Please accept our sincere condolences on the loss of this great and thoughtful public servant. I offer these thoughts of condolence as the President and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League, which benefited from his support of our fight for civil rights and economic empowerment for the underserved members of our community, and as an individual who had the honor of getting to know him personally. Los Angeles is a better place, and we are all better people, because of his presence. I want to thank his family for sharing him with all of us.
Our prayers are with you.
I have very fond memories of hiking to the “top” as a small child with my grandmother for picnics. Tom and Charlie were always a part of these gatherings and events at Griffith Park where I spent so much time growing up. Their support of the park was so important and I am glad that Tom is being honored there. He was always very kind and a good friend to my grandmother who was very special to me. Now as an adult, I love being outdoors and hiking. I owe a part of that appreciation to Tom and the work he did in the community. He will not be forgotten.
One day, strolling toward Echo Park Lake to enjoy its beauty, I encountered a Crown Victoria roaring up to the curb, only to reveal a familiar, happy face. Another time, as city hall workers began to lift a huge Christmas tree in the rotunda, a figure burst on to the scene out of nowhere to join them and literally got down on his knees pushing up the heavy tree from the floor. Tom Labonge: a unique, beautiful soul who modeled public service. LA’s Field Deputy, a frontline worker who wasn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and truly cared about all the people, always passionate to do something with our precious lives even if people thought he was crazy. He often said, “John Ferraro didn’t make it to the fourth quarter.” Now he joins LA’s other great Tommy in the Field of Dreams in the sky. I will miss him but he lives in our hearts forever!
Tom was the finest example of a man and inspired all with his kindness, compassion and boundless good deeds. When my late husband, Capt. Frank Patchett, and I would be driving in LA and see a car with an old sofa or mattress tied on top, it would always be Tom, picking up trash in his beloved city. Tom arranged to honor Frank with a memorial tree and bench in Griffith Park for which I am eternally grateful. These two old friends will now be together again. Dear Brigid and family, I am so sorry for your loss, for our county’s loss. Tom was not just an LA treasure, but treasured by all who knew and loved him. He will be terribly missed! My love and thoughts are with you.
As Amoeba Music looked to expand from our Bay Area roots, Tom was instrumental in assisting us with our transition and making us feel right at home in Hollywood. He made sure we knew the right folks and would stop by and check in on me randomly and enthusiastically! The process of getting our permits was a laborious one and we met many opportunistic politicians looking for campaign contributions to help with this or that roadblock, so initially I was wary of Tom’s enthusiasm and spirit, but in a short time I could see he was just what he appeared to be—an ambassador of our city and a very kind person. We could use more of them and will miss Tom’s presence.
Thank you for helping us establish a home for our community away from home. The Little Bangladesh community loves and misses you. Praying for your loved ones during this time.
My deepest condolences to The La Bonge Family.
I met Tom years ago through my brother Marvin Markowitz and nephew Jonathan Brand who worked with Tom. I was lucky enough to attend the Hollywood Christmas Parade on a float with Tom. We had a great time, everyone loved him. Tom had charisma and cared so much about Los Angeles. He was a very kind man; always a gentleman. Tom would stop by our restaurant Factor’s Famous Deli and say hello. We will miss him. May his memory be a blessing.
Tom was a remarkable man. Lover of all things Los Angeles, especially Griffith Park. I was one of many losing candidates in the 9/11/2001 election. But he was gracious and even implemented one of my ideas. He was quite generous with his time and very, very kind; something much needed in politics today and every day. My condolences to his family.
We are so very sorry for your loss. We were lucky enough to meet Tom and his family at Ivanhoe. Tom was always upbeat, bubbly and happy and he and Brigid gave so much support to the school. The firemen from down the street always came to school events to make pancakes, which the kids really loved, and I just know that was Tom’s doing. Los Angeles lost an ebullient home town booster and we are all the poorer for the loss.
Barbara and I have known Tom since he worked with John Ferraro in support of the restoration of Angeleno Heights. He had a positive influence on that effort and had a continuing interest in what had been accomplished. It is truly sad that in recent years that the mayor and the city council has allowed Echo Park Lake to deteriorate to the point that residents can no longer safely use the park for recreation. We need a new champion of LA neighborhoods to emerge who has the same energy and dedication to the well being of the community. Tom’s presence and influence will be missed.
Dear Brigid, Mary-Cate, Charles, and the entire LaBonge family,
Tom was my hero. He led with his heart and loved everyone. He was proud of City workers and always treated them with love, respect and appreciation. I recall a ride back with Tom to City Hall from a storm drain cleanup early in the morning. It was the most fun and longest ride where I got a history lesson about LA and what it means to serve. On the trip, Tom stopped a couple of times to help senior residents take out their trash cans. He was always ready to serve and help. On personal note, I was in a community meeting with Tom in Toluca Lake and I was late to my son’s little league game. When I finally got to the game, Tom was on the phone checking to see if I made it in time. LA will miss Tom but we will always remember his love and service. LA is a better place to live because of Tom. Your memories will be with us forever. May God bless his soul and his family. RIP
Rest in peace to our friend, Tom LaBonge. It was an honor to have met and worked with Tom on several projects related to telecommunication technology when he was a Chief of Staff for former Council President of Los Angeles City Council. Also, thank you for supporting the Communities who are Deaf, Blind, and Hard of Hearing. Tom, you will be missed!
To Brigid, Mary-Cate, and Charles,
Thank you for lending Tom to the people of Los Angeles. We loved him so much and he loved us. We knew this because every time we saw him there was a huge smile often followed by a great hug. He gave us his time without hesitation. He remembered us at Christmas with a loaf of pumpkin bread from the Monastery of the Angels. When Griffith Park had been damaged by the fires he rallied the troops to replant and repair its paths. It wasn’t unusual to run into Tom on the trails greeting constituents and tourists alike. “Fair winds and following seas shipmate…relieved by those you have trained, guided, and lead. Shipmate, you stand relieved…we have the watch.”
Tom was a great supporter of our community project, a Neighborhood Traffic Circle, now under construction at the intersection of Bronson Avenue and Canyon Drive. Without his help the project would never have gotten off the ground. It saddens me greatly that he will not see the traffic circle completed.
Tom truly loved our city. No subject matter was too small for him to get involved. His impromptu and hands-on approach to any issue that caught his attention was truly unique.
I will also always remember him as this great jovial person who was just great fun to be around with.
After losing a Grammy, I watched the sunrise from the Griffith Park Observatory in my tux. A man walked up to me and asked if I was coming home or on my way out, I said, “Coming home.” I told him that I was just at the Grammys. The man says, “Where do you live?” I told him, “Over there just across the street from Prospect Studios.” and he said, “I’m your city councilman, Tom LaBonge. You know, I came up here after losing my first election. It’s where I go when I need to think.” We talked for a bit he said congratulations and we parted ways. It felt like a moment out of a movie. I later learned he was part of the expansion of the park and the revitalization of the Observatory. I still go there to think on a regular basis. Thanks, Tom. That was a surreal moment and a cherished memory.
The Councilman turned the best day of my life into a LA dream day way beyond anything my wife and I could’ve imagined. He officiated at our wedding in April 2013. We had called his office, just to ask whether having the wedding at Griffith Observatory would be too difficult, but his aide asked if we’d be able to meet the councilman there a few days later. After meeting us in the Observatory parking lot, he spun around, pointed up and away from the Observatory and said, “Ya know, if I had it to do all over again, I’d take my wife up to Mount Hollywood.” And, that’s where we ended up with family and friends. We look at photos from that day and feel eternally grateful for the happiness that Councilman LaBonge orchestrated, all through his kindness and enthusiasm for making good things happen in Los Angeles, especially in Griffith Park. He is remembered on every hike we take to the peak overlooking the city that meant so much to him—and is better place because of him. Sending our condolences and love.
He would come into Baller Hardware where I cashier, and I would always ask him what he was doing that day. He was always working on preserving and beautifying Griffith Park and Silverlake. The last day I saw him was at the store and he made a point to tell me I was really good at my job. I have started taking weekly hikes up to Griffith Park in his honor. RIP Tom.
My deepest condolences to the LaBonge family. As the head of the City of Los Angeles historic preservation program, I always knew that Tom was the best possible friend and cheerleader for our work – at least when he wasn’t giving me pop quizzes to test my own historical knowledge. I will always treasure the last time I spent with Tom, after running into him at the L.A. Marathon on Hollywood Blvd. on the Sunday last March just before the pandemic shutdown. We walked together for about a mile through Hollywood, and I marveled as he shook hands with every police officer along the route and countless community members who stopped us along the way. He was truly one of a kind, and through the force of his personality managed to make our huge metropolis feel like a small town, where we were all personally connected.
I mourn the loss of the Honorable Tom LaBonge, a tireless champion of the friendship between Los Angeles and Japan. He will be remembered for his enthusiastic support of the Los Angeles-Nagoya sister city relationship, and his excitement for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics as a bridge to Los Angeles 2028 soon to follow. May his legacy live on as we carry on his work, building bridges with friends throughout the world.
Councilman L.A. Bonge performed our wedding. I love this city so much and our wedding ceremony and reception were held at Grand Park and themed around the unique sense of family, the approach to community, and the rich dynamic culture that LA fosters and nurtures in us and our relationships. He is probably the only person who could understand that. LA is so frequently misunderstood, but Tom got it. I don’t think anyone else understood my desire to celebrating LA as well as celebrating the beginning of our family the way he did. My friends call me LA’s greatest ambassador. Well, that’s because they didn’t know Tom LaBonge. I don’t think anyone has ever loved and understood this city more than he did. He got LA, he loved it like I do, he got involved in its inner workings, became a fixture of its day to day moment, and he knew every subculture and community. I enjoyed every moment I spent with him. Our wedding day was an amazing day, and he made it more so.
Tom and I first met at City Hall in the mid-1970s. And by God, over the years I swear he remained the same authentic person. Affable, generous, as in love with L.A. as anyone I ever met. I saw him during his good times and bad. Through it all, his unwavering optimism, his commitment to the city, and the kindness he displayed to others, always struck me as something rare and a model for all. News of his death struck me hard. It was as if a part of the city was no more. But as I sat back, I realized I was wrong. As all of these comments attest, his spirit is still with us.
I met Councilman La Bonge when I was working for Metro. Such a great loss. He will be missed. Also I met Mark one day when he happened to need a ride to a bank. My name is Loretta Ferem. I was working as a Senior Officer at Metro and I took Mark to a particular bank that he needed to get to.
Tom and I had infrequent interactions over the years since my family moved into the Silver Lake community in 1987. I would come across Tom at Gelson’s Market or Saturday morning at the Farmers Market or perhaps while I was out walking our dog in the beautiful hills of Silver Lake. Tom would alway have a heart-felt “Hello Mr. Otto” for me as our paths crossed. He always had a smile and a quick quip to share about the lovely hills of our neighborhood and our City. Tom LA-Bonge along with the other Tom, Tommy LA-sorda, were two cherished ambassadors for our City and it’s fitting that both their family names begin with the recognized short hand for the name of our City of Angels. Tom LA-Bonge was truly a treasure and will be remembered long after the tears recede and his memory brings a smile to our faces.
Thank you for being you, Tom. We love you and miss you.
Councilmember LaBonge will always hold a special place in my heart. I greatly admired his humor, intellect and passion. Surrounding his family with love during this time.
My deepest sympathies to the LaBonge family and close friends who were touched by Tom. He will be missed by the Los Feliz Community and the members of Los Angeles who were friends and/or worked with him. R.I.P. dear Tom, your smile and upbeat attitude will be missed.
As far as I can think back I was in school with one of the LaBonge brothers. I’d run in to Tom at Albertsons Market on Hillhurst regularly. Each time he greeted me with a great big smile and a hug, then talk about joining them for a hike through Griffith Park. I had some business with the Wells Fargo and he told the manager to take good care of me, not realizing she knew who I was. It was sincere and appreciated.
Tom was a great human being. I already miss him. I was able to talk with him during my advocacy days at City Hall. Tom surprised me one day with his knowledge about the M. Lowe Railway in Altadena/Pasadena and he also pointed out to us at a neighborhood council meeting that the original billboard of the signage promoting the great Railway to Mt. Lowe was posted on the underpass wall of Soto Street and Valley Blvd.
Sadly, the city painted over this important message and past. They should restore this. Tom wanted this restored as well. There was no follow-up by any LA 32 Neighborhood Council members. I enjoyed listening to his reactions at city council meetings by citizens. He was a good listener and addressed citizens with much respect. And he/his team followed up when he could. Yes, he will be missed. So you out there get hip and save the LA story scene by keeping track of citizen accomplishments and their contributions to making this a great city. Many volunteers make LA happen and protect its interest with great care and love like Tom did. Keep it going folks. Remember, “A community’s strength comes from the actions it takes together.” ~ Anonymous
I miss you so much my friend. Ten-4!
I taught with Tom’s mom, Mary Louise, at Rowan Avenue School, and enjoyed being with the LaBonge clan – eight beloved boys. Bob and Mary Louise raised them all well, and surely would be proud of them all now, as they were then. Tom exhibited their values and lust for life. Please accept my sincerest condolences and appreciation for a life well lived. To all: Go with God. Bless you!
A beautiful person with so much zest for life and for his City of Angels. He would have LOVED having the Summit named after him. And he would have loved hearing all of these kind words, knowing that he was never forgotten. Best way that I can think of to honor his memory is to be kind and stay positive, say hello to visitors, pick up trash when you see it, stop by and check in with friends regularly, make everyone feel special, and go out of your way and do something amazing for a beautiful person BEFORE they pass away.
I met Tom when he worked for John Ferrero, and reconnected when he worked for Mayor Dick Riordan. Tom was a great guy. He Loved LA. He took amazing photos of the city he loved. I will miss him and his yearly calendar with his photos. Prayers for his family and friends. Rest in peace, Tom.
I was Blessed to meet Tom in the 1980s when he was working for John Ferraro. As Tom said, over our decades of mutual respect, friendship and love, we were blessed to be mentored by John. As everyone says, and I agree, there was nobody like Tom. His kindness and love for all parts of our City continually cheered us all up. When I did not see Tom for periods of time, I missed him and hoped his kindness would make me a better person.
Dear Brigid, when Tom first met you he beamed and proudly told my husband Kurt Toppel and has treasured you ever since. He joined the first celebration of the German unification in front of the music center and he lead the tree planting event at Griffith Park in honor of the LA-Berlin Sister City celebration. He introduced me in the tower of City Hall when I received the Pioneer Woman of the Year award and Bill Rosendahl was too sick for the presentation. He was always the most caring, loyal and warm individual yet with an unparalleled strength that allowed no nonsense. He was beloved and respected by his fellow council members, his constituents and his friends. I am sure that Tom and Kurt will already exchange jokes and political opinions in the great meeting place above. Cheers, Haldis.
Tom was a friend and I will miss him. We met when I covered a story when he worked with Mayor Riordan. I would go on to interview Tom countless times over his career. He was my councilman was an advocate for our community baseball league. I will never forget cruising around with him, looking for alternate sites when we faced moving our baseball fields. Tom took my garden club on a Griffith Park excursion that ended atop Mt. Lee behind the Hollywood Sign. Tom loved Los Angeles and anyone who spent time with him learned to love LA, too. My deepest condolence for his family.
RIP Tom!! Councilman Tom Labonge will be very dearly missed. He was smart, energetic and had a great sense of humour. He helped us establish and fine tune the lien program processes through council. I just saw him a few months ago. I can’t believe that was to be the last time. RIP Tom.
I always told people that Tom was my favorite politician. I loved his enthusiasm and his dedication, but I also loved his focus on the small things, consistency, and service. I met Tom through my work in Hollywood — with the Chamber, the Cap Park, and with the Motion Picture Academy. For a few years, we crossed paths a lot, and he always made me smile. When I moved over to the Television Academy in North Hollywood, he gifted me framed photographs of the Emmy statue that he had shot. After I visited the Valley Relics museum in Chatsworth, I sent him a picture of the sign from The Palomino, in return. He had a mind and an exuberance that made and kept connections between and among so many of us. I was so saddened to hear the news of his passing — sad for his beloved family and sad for our city. We will be missing Tom for a long, long time.
My heartfelt sympathy to the wonderful family of Tom. I knew and worked with Tom since the early 1970s. He was a tremendous leader for our city and state. He never said “no” to anyone in need, he had the compassion, and commitment to public service. His leadership and his voice will be sorely missed.
I met Tom while working as a deputy mayor in the Riordan Administration. I grew up in Los Angeles but never appreciated the history and grandeur of our city until getting to know Tom. His authentic love for Los Angeles is infectious. And his decency and goodwill are sadly rare (and needed!) in the politics of Los Angeles, and beyond. I’ll always be grateful for the existential gifts Tom gave me, as well as the lasting legacy he leaves behind for our city and our community.
When I heard the sad news about Tom, I first thought the City of Los Angeles is lesser, today. Upon reflection, I now think the City of Los Angeles is far greater, today, because of Tom. There will never be anyone like him. May we all live such full and vibrant lives!
Brigid, when I came to Los Angeles as a newcomer in 1992, I learned the City’s history from Tom and began to see it through his eyes. What an introduction. His love for Los Angeles was truly infectious. We will all miss him so much.
Tom always made time to join our quarterly Brookside HOA meetings and they were always after business hours. He listened to our community’s needs and always addressed them in a direct manner. He would also come to our annual summer block party. I remember he noticed a Los Angeles Public Library heavy cement/rock sign sitting around somewhere in storage. He made it his mission to have the sign be transported and installed at the Memorial Library at Memorial Park. I walk by that signage a few times per week during my neighborhood walks and always think of Tom. He treated all Angelenos as extended family. God bless your family during this difficult time. He was a special man.
I worked with Tom many times during my tenure as the president of the Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce. He loved our community so much, as do I, so we had a great rapport. I especially appreciated that he was willing to be a judge in one of our Queen of Silver Lake Pageants. Anna Nicole Smith was one of our judges for that pageant. It was the only time I saw a shy Tom LaBonge. He was a devoted family man and a devoted citizen and public servant of LA. I love that in a person. Tom was a perfect guy. Like everyone else who hangs out in Silver Lake, I’d see Tom frequently engaging in the pleasures of Silver Lake. He always had a big smile and a teddy bear hug for me. I’ll miss you, Tom!
I first met Tom when he was essentially the driver for John Ferraro. Tom and I became instant friends, and I believe that we learned from each other over the decades.
I have never met anyone in my nearly 50 years that I have either worked for the City, or with the City as a lobbyist, that is more deserving of the moniker, “Mr. Los Angeles.”
I will cherish the times that I went to lunch with Tom, and really did not get the opportunity to discuss my client matters because Tom was too busy shaking the hands and talking to EVERYONE in the restaurant, including the kitchen staff!
My heart hurt when I heard the news about Councilmember LaBonge. We grieve together for a man who loved and cared for others. May God’s peaceful presence strengthen and sustain the entire LaBonge family. May you find comfort in the many memories you have of a beautiful person.
When I started the John Marshall High Alumni Association 40+ years ago, Tom was right there to help. Always a glass half full guy. Never met a stranger. Stories of his kindness are legion but one of my first was back when he worked for John Ferraro. I was driving around the City Plaza across from the then Federal Courthouse looking for a parking spot for a court appearance since the City lot was full. Tom pulls up next to me in his Crown Vic; I told him my problem; he said to follow him; he moved cones and let me into the closed City lot. Another time I won’t forget is the time he took a few of us Marshall alumni to the tip top of the City Hall. He was an energy force like no other. An extensive library has closed. God bless this unique soul.
On behalf of the Consulate General of the Argentine Republic in Los Angeles I would like to express our deepest condolences for the passing away of our Dear Thomas LaBonge. He was a dear friend and was always ready to help. He was beloved by everybody and respected by not only the Angelinos but also by the members of the consulates base in Los Angeles that some times there were here for few years but continue remember the warm attitude and open arms of our dear Tom.
Rest in peace.
Consulate General of the Argentine Republic
Los Angeles, CA, 90036
Tom’s love of Los Angeles and Angelenos was genuine and obvious to anyone who ever met him.
Who will ever forget his penchant for recalling your high school mascots as a way of connecting with people? It was more than just love, his knowledge of the city was encyclopedic. His ability to get stuff done was second to none.
Perhaps the memory that resonates the most with me is one from a rain storm last year. There was Tom, standing on the Los Feliz Boulevard overpass of the LA River, reporting to someone somewhere on the flood stage. Selfless. Fearless. And concerned for the helpless among the threat of nature.
To the LaBonge Family, Los Angeles mourns with you. And while our loss is great, your loss is unimaginable.
May peace be with you during this difficult time.
Tom was the first LA Councilmember I met, and I assumed the meeting would be a rare thing. In a city of 4 million people, how many times can you bump into the same person? But that’s exactly what happened to me and Tom. No matter what event or celebration, what pancake breakfast or fire station, chances were, I’d see Tom. It was always a wonderful moment, to be within the circle of his energy, his enthusiasm, and his generosity. Los Angeles is a little less bright, a little less welcoming now that he’s gone.
Tom’s exceptionally outgoing personality and upbeat boosterism for all things Los Angeles made him such a unique and welcome partner in support of our efforts to protect our public mural legacy through the Mural Conservancy. I especially recall the talk he delivered in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Olympic Freeway Murals held at Pico House several years ago. To lose his great energy so suddenly…we should have had him with us on our civic journey for another 40 years.
Big smile. Big heart. I remember the last time I saw him, much like the first time, he told me things I didn’t know about LA. He made our city a lighter, brighter, kinder place.
Tom was a beautiful generous person, a mentor and booster to me, and always so positive. I will miss him very much. This whole city will miss Tom and it so fitting for him to have the summit named after him. We had a great time planning Tom McGovern’s surprise party in the park one early morning. Tom was a sincere human being and a dedicated friend to so many. With a heavy heart, I extend my sympathies to your family and hope his memory will bring you and all of us comfort. Allison
Tom spoke at a party for Mel Kohn. I was the MC and we all appreciated his comments and observations about Mel. He walked into a room and he stood out.
So very sorry to hear of Tom’s passing. I am a docent at City Hall. If we ran into Tom during a tour he would always tell the class they had the best guide. He would
then invite them into his office. It didn’t matter if the students were from his district or not. His office was like a museum of Los Angeles history. We will miss him greatly.
I am so sad to hear of the passing of my friend Councilman Tom LaBonge. We did a lot of “good trouble” together over the years and while we were from two very different worlds, we carved out a beautiful friendship and were united by passions we shared. My heart goes out to Brigid and the kids.
4 stories of note:
When we founded BBA in the early 80’s to “clean up” Atwater, Tom was John Ferraro’s Field Deputy. He became a huge ally and helped us with anything needed. When we decided we’d like to change the Atwater name back to Atwater Village (to stop the confusion with Atwater in Northern California), Tom and I happened to be at lunch at the Tam O’Shanter and co-incidentally sat next to State Senator David Roberti. I had just told Tom our idea and he said, “Well let’s handle that right now.” and he grabbed the Senator and said, “You need to know Chris. She leads BBA and has this idea.” The Senator loved it, we shook hands on the spot and within 3 months Atwater was officially back to “Atwater Village.”
We shared a passion for LA Landmarks and at one point, someone was eyeing tearing it down to “update” the beautiful Franklin Bridge in Los Feliz. One call to Tom helped start a series of helpful experiences that resulted in us saving this historic landmark.
Introducing John Ferraro to LGBTQ people
And while John was not a “liberal” back in the day, I was an early activist in advancing LGBT causes, having been a founder of ANGLE, Victory Fund etc. and Tom had grown fond of Susi and I. Tom decided that if John (Ferraro) met us and other members of the group, he would understand “we weren’t that bad.” (Yes, you young activists, that’s how it was.)
The meeting in a back room at Pacific Dining Car was one of many that led to a broader understanding of equity issues in Los Angeles, not only for LGBTQ folks but all people citywide as attitudes evolved.
Kick Ass Back Scenes LA City Tours
Maybe my favorite story is, every time Susi and I were involved with a fundraiser, we would talk Tom into “donating” a “Tour of the City with Councilman Tom La Bonge” and then, at the event, Susi and I would outbid everyone so we could spend some rare quality time with Tom. The last tour included doing circles down in the LA River (where you aren’t allowed to drive), trimming branches to make street signs more visible, visiting the Hollywood sign and a private tour of City Hall’s tower!
As Janice Hahn said in her tribute, nobody loved this City more. See you on the other side my friend. Susan Van Horn, Chris Hershey-Van Horn, Katie Hershey
My sincere condolences are extended to Tom LaBonge’s family. It does my heart good to know that such a person existed who lifted up our communities which in turn I’m sure affected our country at large in some way. I am grateful for the lessons and examples of leadership and caring that he left behind. I’m sure that I will learn more about him in my journeys of serving LA communities and I hope to be as effective in my service.
I was so sorry to hear of Tom’s passing. My sincerest condolences to his family, friends and all those whose lives he has touched! I was one of two Los Angeles Zoo Animal Keepers honored to travel to Berlin in 2015 as part of a Keeper Exchange program he initiated and funded. Berlin is a sister city to Los Angeles, and Tom loved both the Zoo and our sister cities! It was a wonderful learning opportunity for staff at all involved facilities, and I will always treasure the both the experience and the lifetime bonds I formed with the Berliner Tierpfliegern (zoo keepers) while there. Rest in peace, Tom. Los Angeles has lost some of its luster in your absence.
As someone who grew up in Hollywood, it wasn’t a question of if you met Tom LaBonge but when. And when you met him, you most certainly walked away with a story. I have many a story of meeting (and re-meeting) Tom. He was a parishioner at my home parish. I’d wave or say, “Good morning!” I had to re-introduce myself practically every time, but he always made sure to say hello and he’d chat as if we’d been long time friends. Tom LaBonge was part of the fabric of the community, part of the local color. He proudly waved the LA flag atop Mount Hollywood Summit. His deep love of our great city is something I admire and why his passing is a heartbreaking loss. My sincere condolences to the LaBonge family. Thank you for sharing him with our great city.
I was lucky to meet Councilman LaBonge when I was a rookie with the L.A. City Fire Department in Hollywood and through the years had the privilege of much interaction with him at City functions and significant incidents and events, and benefactor endeavours such as the “father and son” rebuilding of houses in underprivileged areas through Loyola High School. He was always positively engaged, had his fingers on the pulse of what was going on in the City and always cared, championed and moved to make things better in Los Angeles, even after he (supposedly) “retired” from public office. Mrs. LaBonge and family, my heartfelt condolences for your loss yet I hope that you rejoice in knowing that your husband and father was an incredible man who did a lot of good, positively influenced those who were lucky enough to be around him and left many great long lasting endowments for the our beloved City, Los Angeles.
He was quite a passionate friend to us photographers out in the field. I light up EVERY time that we crossed paths. His spirit was fierce, his dedication was unmatched and his friendship was honorable. As a photographer in the streets of LA for almost 35 years, he was a true soul that I and SO many of us in the field appreciated, respected and loved so much. The Earth was a MUCH better place with his spirit in it. My love and respect to his family.
My condolences to the entire LaBonge family. He will be truly missed. Like so many others I met Tom over 3 decades ago as he became a fixture at City Hall. His easygoing demeanor and his honesty earned him respect from all.
When he was at DWP he arranged a meeting with multiple DWP field installation supervisors with regards to a complex issue in the mid-city Wilshire District. I was amazed at how easily Tom was able to resolve the unusual issue by letting DWP staff know that “there has to be a way to get this done.” After about 20 minutes DWP staff came up with an idea that resolved the issue to the benefit of both DWP and the client.
Although I am pretty much retired I look back with fond memories of my interactions with Tom. He was an exceptional civil servant and a good human being. RIP, Tom
To Tom’s Family: I first met Tom LaBonge in the early 1980s when he worked for Council President John Ferraro. I worked for Mayor Tom Bradley at City Hall. He was a friend, community resource, and a tireless booster of the City of Los Angeles. I was fortunate to work with Tom as we prepared for the 1984 Olympic Games, the expansion of the LA Convention Center, and the establishment of the L.A.-Vancouver Sister City Committee. His insights, connections, energy and even his photos were invaluable in these efforts. He will be greatly missed. Sending condolences to all.
My condolences and God’s blessings to Mr. LaBonge’s family. Mayor Garcetti recognized him as a great Angeleno, but many recognized him as a great Ambassador of the Southern California region. As he often made himself available to support and advocate the plans and programs associated with the Southern California Association of Governments that serves the six counties of Imperial, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, and Los Angeles. He could light up a room when he had opportunity to speak, I admired his energy and his passion. Rest in peace, Tom LaBonge!
Tom was an institution and a great public servant, as well as a neighbor and a great guy. While everyone talks about his Ford Crown Vic, I remember his Chevy convertable. He will be greatly missed.
My deepest condolences to Tom’s family and his many, many friends and colleagues. It is hard to imagine Los Angeles without him. No community meeting, event or gathering was complete without his warmth, humor, knowledge and passion for the projects that make this City a great place to live. He embodied kindness and generosity in everything he did. Working for the City and also living down the street from him for many years, I felt like he was keeping an eye on all of us. The last time I saw him he was leaning out of his car yelling at me to get out of a crosswalk in front of City Hall or I would get hit! Los Angeles will miss you, Tom.
My heartfelt condolences to the LaBonge family. May your memories of Tom be a comfort to you. I’ve known or known of Tom LaBonge for my entire City career, well over 30 years. He was everywhere. I’ve been on his hikes to the Hollywood sign and did one 5k with him in downtown LA, the longest 5k I’d ever done as we had to stop to take note of the significance of every street, building, mural, corner, etc.! He just knew everything about the City of LA. He meant Los Angeles to me.
Tom spoke at our All Hands Meeting for HCIDLA and seemed to be so easy going when I was thinking of myself ( a bad habit ), I called Tom and he said meet me at Griffith Observatory at 6AM. I forgot about myself and watched as he picked up trash along the hike he asked where do I live and he told me to get a mountain. I would later be putting my shoes on to hike in the morning in the Observatory parking lot and I would see him give directions to visitors to the Observatory and be a welcoming spirit to them. He was an inspiration for what it is to be a public servant. I was saddened to hear of his passing and my condolences to his family and close friends.
When i visit the beautiful Hollywood Reservoir for a run or walk, I’m often reminded of Tom who made sure it was returned to public use after major flood damage. His care for the district and love for the City live on through the projects that he stewarded. Condolences to the family and rest in peace, Tom.
My heartfelt condolences to Tom’s family and friends. Tom was one in a million; you could tell how much he loved the City.
I had the privilege of knowing Tom as he dined with us on numerous occasions and also helped direct us on several City service needs and questions, even when he was not in our district. He was always pleasant and upbeat, went out of his way to greet me and to ask how things were going wherever I ran into him.
I will retain fond memories of this kind and thoughtful man.
My deepest condolences for the LaBonge family, I will miss Tom!! Mr. Councilman L.A. I met the councilman 20 years ago, I worked for the City of LA’s YO program at the time and I would help youth find jobs. I happened to be at City Hall one day and I ran into CM Tom and asked him if he would take a youth intern in his office. He said, “A youth?” I said, “Yes!” He said, “Bring him over on Friday and we will get him started.” From that point on every time I would see the CM, he would say, “When are you sending me more youth?” Fast forward, I had just seen CM Tom on his bike in South LA at an event in March, 2020 and I reminded him that I would see him at the Blessings of the Bikes event in May. He said, “Of course!” CM.TOM! May you RIP and watch over us, our real angel of LA!!!
My friend and classmate of almost 55 years, Tom LaBonge just passed away.
Extraordinarily sad. We have lost the apotheosis of joyous community leader and lover.
His infectious love of community—our community—for his beautiful family and clan, his passion for history, his profound understanding of place and place-making are the are among the many qualities, the leadership qualities, he was gifted with. They were virtues unto themselves. Virtues not at all to be taken for granted, but to be cherished.
He modeled love of community, its people and places. Whether it was his daily hikes—part of his persona—in Griffith Park, or his drive around the communities in his old beautiful convertible, or shouting people like me out at the supermarket or at community gatherings, or recalling his family and the generations of service to Los Angeles.
He was kind and caring. He had great affection for our family, and we had a history. Tom, Mia and I shared a life long passion for community and community building.
At King Junior High and Marshall High, Tom was a jock and I was involved in student government. In the 50 years since then, I never became a jock, just an architect, but Tom did become an important community leader, a public servant to his core serving in so many capacities, most memorably and powerfully as our city Councilman. Whether on the loudspeaker at Gelson’s supermarket, or at community meetings, or walking on the street, Tom would shout out, “There is my student body president, Mike Lehrer.” He never missed a beat.
As City Councilman, he lead. He enthused, but also, as a leader in the real world, occasionally disappointed his constituencies—from homeowners to homeless—along the way.
I will miss him dearly, our community suffers a great loss without him, but he will remain the iconic embodiment of leader as community love and joy and pride and meaning.
Rest in peace, young man.
To the LaBonge family, deepest sympathies for the loss of a giant. I came to know Tom so well over the 20 years I have worked for the greater Los Angeles Zoo Association as the VP for Advancement. He loved the Zoo, he loved the staff, and he was our greatest champion at City Hall. I will never forget how hard he fought for the Zoo to retain our elephants. My fondest memories of him were the times when I drove him around the Zoo and he would always ask me to stop for a moment while he gazed longingly at the golf course next door, and say, “One day I would love to see elephants and giraffe roaming over there.” He will be sorely missed by his GLAZA and Zoo friends.
Deepest condolences to the entire LaBonge family. My first memory of Mr. LaBonge was seeing him at a meeting with then Councilwoman Stevens and Councilman Ferraro; I think I was 6. I thought he was the happiest man on earth next to Santa. Years later, he spoke in front of my class at John Marshall HS (Tom’s alma mater). I remembered him and I thought then, as a teenager, this man truly loves Los Angeles; it’s not a political act. Mr. LaBonge was a great mentor from a far and became somewhat of an actual mentor when we finally met while I was working for Recreation and Parks. Though of different generations, we grew up in the same place and loved the same places within this City—mainly GRIFFITH PARK. I would run into him on trails or in parking lots on my off days. He always reminded me to listen to people as that was the way to really communicate and create change. Mr. LaBonge became more of a part of my life when I began working at the Zoo which was in his glorious Council District 4. Tom’s genuine love for this park and this Zoo never shined brighter than when he championed the Zoo as the best place for “Billy.” I could speak about this man for days; this City of Angels lost a true angel today. Godspeed, Mr. LaBonge, Los Angeles is better because of you.
I worked for the LAPD for 38 years. I often came into contact with Tom as a part of my duties. In all of my dealings with him he was always kind, fair and just. There were few other council persons that were his equal. I retired as a police commander. The City Council decided to honor me with a proclamation at city hall, that was presented very early in the morning. Only Tom and two other council persons showed up at the event. he did not have to be there but he was! I will never forget his loyalty and kindness.
Our deepest condolences to you and the LaBonge family. Volker and I have so many fond memories of Tom. Either he, or I, had the honor to photograph him at so many of the German Consulate events in Los Angeles. It wouldn’t be a happening without Tom. We shared a lot of laughs, hugs, and even bike rides. He truly loved the City of Angels and he will be greatly missed. Now that we have the “Tom LaBonge Summit,” he will always be with us in spirit and never forgotten in his beloved Griffith Park.
My sincere condolences, thoughts, and prayers for the loss of Tom LaBonge. I especially admired him for his wonderful guerilla gardening. I worked on a petition he had posted on a 100-year-old Camphor tree that was starting to be cut down. It is still there on 4th Street in Hancock Park. May it serve as a living memorial to a great soul.
I first met Tom through meetings with Hollywood Heritage or at the Museum. Though he met me only a few times, he remembered my name. He always had such enthusiasm and passion for Hollywood and Los Angeles, pouring his heart and soul into serving the city and its people and promoting it to the moon. He was the true definition of servant and representative, doing his all to make things better for the city and people. I am so sorry for your loss of such a man, sending you condolences and prayers.
I am also a native Angelino around the same age as Tom was. Although I did not live in his district or work with him, I admired his proud L.A. boosterism and the community bicycle rides he led to share other parts of the City we might not be familiar with. He made all feel welcome and was a real asset to the City and all those who encountered him.
I first met Tom when I was a director with the Los Angeles Police Protective League and he was working for Council President John Ferraro. Tom loved his job and always went the extra mile to serve the people of L.A. Later in life we were both elected to the L.A. City Council. Our friendship continued as we worked to serve the people of Los Angeles. Tom always did his very best to serve his district and was responsive to all the needs of his district. Tom was always full of energy and determination to get the job done. Tom loved his wife and children and the L.A. Fire Department. Tom lived a full life, just too short. Rest in peace friend and colleague.
My sincerest condolences to the LaBonge family on the loss of Tom. What a hero to the our city! While working at the Community Redevelopment Agency I had the pleasure of working with Tom on a number of housing and economic development projects in North Hollywood, and it was his drive that made so much happen! Tom made a difference every day!
Also to all Berliners the message of Tom’s death came as a shock. For us, in LA’s sister city, Tom was Mr. LA—as his name suggests. Like nobody else he stood for city diplomacy. Each city learned through him the best practices of city management. Politicians and members of the civil society, policemen, fire fighters, park rangers, zoo directors and many others came together whenever he called to learn from each other. As I had the privilege to live in his district for nearly four years I often had the privilege to hike with him in Griffith Park early in the morning, patrol with him through the streets of Los Feliz to observe with how much energy and enthusiasm he helped his co-citizens. I will never forget how happy we were when we both planted a tree in the Berlin Forest and how sad we were when a fire destroyed much of the park.
All Berliners will always remember Tom’s legacy. For us he was LA’s foreign minister. I think it is very fitting that Mount Hollywood Summit, which we climbed so often, will now be named the “Tom LaBonge Summit.”
Wishing you all the best for yourself and for your beautiful city,
Hans J. Wendler
Former Consul General from Germany
I am so sorry for your loss and for the loss of the entire community. Tom was a true champion of Los Angeles. He loved the city and everyone in the community. I will remember him not only for his kindness to me but for his kindness toward everyone he encountered. I will also remember him for always being at the start of the marathon and most other big events to cheer the participants on their way. Thank you, Tom for embodying public service.
Tom was very polite to whomever he met or wrote. He wrote to me once with great enthusiasm. I remember his style and I like it. He really did love LA and people big and small. Farewell, Tom.
My deepest condolences to La Bonge Family. May God watch over you, bind the wounds of your sorrow, give you hope for a brighter tomorrow and keep you in his grace.
My deepest condolences to the LaBonge family. As the City Council’s institutional memory, Tom was a true hero and came to the rescue in the struggle to secure additional environmental review for a poorly planned project on Elephant Hill in El Sereno in 2007. Following expert testimony about the hillside’s unstable soil and natural underground water system, Tom recalled on the Council floor how a nearby CRA condo project had cost the City $65 million in damages due to subsidence back in the 80’s. Taking Tom’s lead, the Council voted unanimously in favor of requiring a supplemental EIR. Thanks to Tom’s history lesson and endorsement, environmental justice prevailed that day. May his memory be a blessing.
Tom loved LA and loved people more than anyone I know. He was bigger than life so it is still a shock for me that death could ever catch him. He supported the LA Zoo fiercely and I loved working with him when I was a Zoo Commissioner. He also championed LA abroad, and we saw him regularly in Berlin on Sister City business or for a Zoo exchange project he and I developed together. We both were John Marshall High School Barristers as well. He was absolutely one of a kind, and one of the kindest people I know. RIP Tom.
I have several stories about Tom. I was the Recreation Director at Hollywood Recreation Center for 18 years, from December 1995 to March 2014. During that time Tom was very supportive of the Recreation Center. In 2001 we won the City Championship and our team was honored at City Hall. After the ceremony Tom took the team and coaches to the back of the Chambers and explained with great enthusiasm what it meant to be a citizen of Los Angeles. I will never forget that. He was also very instrumental in trying to bring sports back to Los Angeles City College. He was a great man. God bless him and his family.
Tom was a very decent human being and a dedicated Public Servant. I deeply appreciate his support for LADWP, where I worked and now retired, and its employees at every single chance he got. He attended many of our board meetings just to appreciate and encourage us. Also, I want to acknowledge and sincerely appreciate his support for the Bangladeshi Community in the Wilshire District/Korea Town area. May God bless his soul and keep it in peace.
Tom’s love for Los Angeles was contagious and energizing. I will always remember his positive spirit, and was happy to receive some of his calendars. I send my sincerest condolences to his family.
KNBC & KCBS
My deepest condolences to the La Bonge Family. May Mr. Tom LaBonge rest in peace. He was such a kind person and a great council member.
My deepest condolence for your loss. We used to be “neighbors” when you lived on Brunswick Street in Atwater Village. I knew Tom when I served at the Neighborhood Council and would see him at the 12:10 mass at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral during holy days of obligation when I worked downtown. But my more memorable meetings with Tom was when I volunteered at the gift shop of the Monastery of the Angels Dominican Convent in Hollywood. Tom was a very big donor/supporter of the Monastery. He would buy several loaves of the Monastery pumpkin bread to give away. He was the best “advertisement” for the Monastery pumpkin bread. The recipient would find the address of the Monastery and would come and buy more loaves. When he’d come to the monastery while I was the volunteer, we’d spend some time talking about City Hall going ons. All the other volunteers know Tom very well. It was always a pleasure when he’d come in. I’m sure had it not been for the pandemic, the nuns would gladly have a memorial for him at our perpetual adoration chapel.
I had a mass said for the repose of his soul at Holy Family Catholic Church in Glendale. I have mentioned to the parish priest, Fr. Jim Bevacqua about my friendship with Tom and his name was included in the Prayers of the Faithful in all weekend masses this past weekend. He was also included in Fr. Jim’s prayer for the dead in the 5:30 mass, Monday January 25. Many of the nuns who knew Tom have also recently passed on and I am sure they are all having a good time listening to Tom’s stories in heaven.
May eternal light shine upon him and may he rest in eternal peace.
I went with my aunt to his swearing in ceremony in Griffith Park. His love and dedication to the city was profound. He was the city’s ambassador.
Tom had such an infectious love for the City that could cut through even the most mundane and bureaucratic meeting. His loving spirit and boosterism will be sorely missed. Sending prayers during this difficult time.
It is hard to believe that Tom, Mr. LA, is not with us anymore. I have known Tom for 27 years and appreciated him for his enthusiastic support of the sister city partnership between Los Angeles and Berlin and his genuine affection for our City of LA. He was a true public servant, a great ambassador, who connected people from all walks of life and promoted a lively cultural exchange between the 24 sister cities. Tom has left us with an abundance of wonderful memories of events and programs we shared, the tree plantings at the Berlin Forest and energetic hikes to Mount Hollywood with Tom, not hiking, but sprinting up the hills. Thank you for everything, Tom, you will always be remembered.
I first met Tom at the beginning of my career as a landscape architect for the City’s Bureau of Engineering, when he worked for LADWP, and I had the opportunity to work with him on many other projects with him during the years. He had such an outgoing personality, was such a colorful character, had so many great stories and was a joy to work with. I will always remember him with fondness and I know he will be missed by so many of us. My thoughts are with you.
I am so sorry for your loss. I first met Tom at the beginning of my career as a landscape architect for the City’s Bureau of Engineering, when he worked for LADWP, and I had the opportunity to work with him on many other projects with him during the years. He had such an outgoing personality, was such a colorful character, had so many great stories and was a joy to work with. I will always remember him with fondness and I know he will be missed by so many of us.
Though, I never met Tom. Our condolences reach out to the family members and dearly beloved. May his soul rest in peace.
Embracing his enthusiasm and sincere love and dedication for our great city of the angels—Los Angeles—his remembrance shall stay strongly within our hearts and minds.
Embracing his enthusiasm and sincere love and dedication for our great city of the angels ~ Los Angeles ~
My deepest sympathies and prayers for your whole family. May God bless Tom’s soul.
To Tom LaBonge’s family – You all must be wonderful people because Tom talked about his family to me all the time. I worked with him in Regional Government and he got to know my family too. One of the highlights of our year back in December of 2017 was a tour he gave our family to the Hollywood sign. That was no small feat as there were 25 of us. He looked out lovingly over the city, that was his, and said “I am so proud to say that this city is my home” – and I said to him that this city of LA was proud to have him call Los Angeles home. What an amazing man – and I will miss him dearly. Thank you for sharing him with us.
For 9 years of my life, while serving on the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, I had the rare chance to collaborate closely with Tom, who was my Council Member as well. A lot has been said about his love and devotion to the City of Los Angeles. Here I would like to share my personal appreciation. Tom showed to me and to all of us—the grass roots Silver Lake activists, what it does mean to be a PUBLIC SERVANT! Thank you, Tom! You left a huge legacy!
My deepest sympathies go to the family of Tom LaBonge. Tom was an every-present force for good in the neighborhood, a neighborhood in which I have lived my whole life. He was concerned about every citizen, and opened his heart to every cause. When I was Chair of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, he was sensitive to our needs for a permanent home. That home eventually was build in Pan Pacific Park, and has served thousands of students as a place of memory and of education. That was one of many great gifts Tom brought to the community. He will be deeply missed.
I never knew or met Tom as I’m a fairly new Angeleno. From the sounds of the people that did know him, I missed out on a wonderful soul dedicated to his treasured City of Angeles and his call to serve the people of Los Angeles. May you all find peace and comfort and embrace all of the warm memories your beloved shared.
May the Lord give you everlasting peace. God Bless
Three fond memories of Tom that jump out: the first time I read a transcript of his remarks and was struck anew by the gripping, jazzy flow of his words; when he introduced my mother, visiting from Chicago, to the council, at Eric Garcetti’s insistence, who knew he would do it best; and being on stage in full drag with him judging for the Queen of Silverlake Competition. I ran into him once or twice after both our City Hall days were through, but not nearly enough times. I’m so sorry you’re gone, Tom.
Tom was one of the best human beings I had the privilege of knowing, working with, and even campaigning with. He was always the bright light on optimism especially about Los Angeles and particular political candidates. And he ALWAYS bragged to others about the personal efforts you had made on behalf of the city and in encouraging him to pursue the life of politics he so dearly loved. I will be looking for the next Tom who will love the role of a public servant as much as he did.
Tom was such a wonderful ambassador at all the City of Los Angeles Sister Cities’ events. All our International Sister Cities knew Tom and his love and excitement. Tom was a wonderful ambassador for the City of Los Angeles. All our Sister Cities felt Tom’s love and enthusiasm for our city. Every time we have international visitors we always take a trip to Griffith Park and the Observatory. I have a calendar of photos Tom took of his favorite places. He will always be remembered. Our thoughts and love are with you and your family.
Tom was a true steward of Los Angeles civic pride and caring, as well as one Hollywood’s greatest advocate for quality of life improvement. While not technically an alumnus of Hollywood High School (I believe Tom graduated from Marshall High), Tom frequently spoke to and inspired students and alumni audiences at HHS events. Always approachable and enthusiastic, Tom will fondly be called to mind as a great public servant, consistently offering generous investment of self for the common good. He is now with the angels of L.A. Thank you to Tom’s family for sharing him with us all.
I met Tom after the Griffith Park fire in the mid 2000s. He needed volunteers to help with trail rebuilding and he worked side-by-side with us, probably harder than the rest us combined. So friendly, so gregarious, he made you feel at ease from the first and greeted you like an old friend forever after. He radiated authenticity and passion. May his memory be a blessing.
I worked for Zev, when Tom was with John Ferraro. We stayed in contact through the years. Tom had a heart of gold. I will miss him.
Condolences to Tom’s family and especially Mark LaBonge a dear friend of mine.
Tom was one of the best. He was kind, respectful and welcoming. RIP dear Tom.
To Brigid, Mary-Cate and Charles — no one loved Los Angeles more than your husband and father. His spirit was infectious and ALWAYS positive. I remember being at a press conference on the Walk of Fame when some ribbon was being cut, and he grabbed two random tourists from the crowd, introduced them to the media and asked them what they loved about Hollywood. I always said he was the only person who could fill the shoes as the honorary mayor of Hollywood after Johnny Grant passed and I still believe that to this day. Tom LaBonge had a gift for remembering names and when he looked at you, you felt like he really saw you and he cared. There was nothing phony or political about him. He was authentic, honest and approachable. He will always be an important part of the history of Los Angeles and you should be very proud!
Dear Family of Tom LaBonge,
I was shocked and saddened to hear of Councilman LaBonge’s passing. I met him when I was the Principal at Ivanhoe Elementary. He volunteered for our Safet Valet Dropoff Program (opening car doors for students in the morning). Mr. LaBonge was always there on Community Beautification Days. One year he organized the entire Emergency Bin. He was always positive and would ask how it was going for me as a new principal. On my last day which happened to be the Halloween Parade Mr. LaBonge took my arm and marched me around the whole playground for a proper goodbye. Then lo and behold he showed up at my new school, Micheltorena, with a loaf of bread for a new beginning. Mr. LaBonge will be sorely missed in his beloved city of Los Angeles. He will live on in the hearts of all of us.
Loved watching Tom on the city council. He spoke his mind with a heart to better our city. We could use 15 more Toms on our city council right now.
Keeping you and your family in my prayers🙏🏿! God be with you…
Dear Bridget and family,
Our sincerest condolences. Tom leaves behind a huge hole in the LA community. His joke d’vivre and bursting enthusiasm was infectious and a joy. The room was brighter when he entered. No one was or ever will be as dedicated to this city and to the people. Los Angeles is a better place because of him. I treasured our friendship over the past two decades and feel so lucky to have known him. Sending you our sincerest sympathies.
My parents were very close to Tom. They used to hike often to see Tom and Charlie Turner (Tom named a trailhead after him) at Dante’s View. They knew him through the years. I was touched that Tom came out of his busy schedule to speak at my father’s funeral AND he planted a tree in my dad’s honor in Griffith Park. One of the ways you can honor him is by hiking in Griffith Park where he spent lot of his time and helped improve it. You could also honor him by eating his favorite and delicious pumpkin bread from the Monastery of the Angels LOL. Tom used to lead hikes to Mt. Hollywood often (now named after Tom). I hope that a hike is organized up to Tom LaBonge Summit and a tree is planted in Griffith Park to honor him–hint hint to the mayor. My sincere condolences!
He did the following to make Griffith Park better:
Expansion of Griffith Park by 500 acres.
Restoration and expansion of Griffith Observatory.
The Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Hollywood.
Charlie Turner Trailhead
Statute of Mr. Griffith
Former Beatle’s member George Harrison Memorial Tree–killed by beetles. Ironic?
May God bless his soul with peace and give strength to his family to bear his loss
I am sorry for your for your loss! I know that good memories of times together will soften your sadness.
I am so sadden to hear of Tom’s passing. I had the pleasure of working with him and his district on many special community clean up campaigns as a City employee for Sanitation. He was always very kind to me and whenever I bumped into him he would always greet me with a hug. I remember a line from an old war movie when at the end the movie in the very last scene a commander of a battleship was sitting on the bridge looking out at sea grieving the Loss of some of his crew he said, “Where do we get such men?” Tom, where do get such a man like you; caring, concerned, helpful, your love of family, citizens and the City of Los Angeles. “Where do we get such men!” RIP Councilman LaBonge
Tom wrought light and cheer whenever he walked into a room. He was a great support when I became the co-founding executive director of Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative (LANI) in 1994. He would assist me in navigating city departments to help ensure the success of our projects, and would bring his trusty camera to our events to help document our progress. His light has dimmed, but he will not be forgotten.
I got to know Tom as a fellow John Marshall barrister on the Alumni Association Board. He’d drop by when he was still on the council and had a bajillion other meetings and projects and give us ideas and support. A truer barrister or Angeleno could not be found next to Tom. Sadly, our board president, Joanna Erdos, and Tom’s partner in school action, is gravely ill, and I feel the cosmos will be quite noisy with their projects for it. She’s ever a mover and so is he. So, I know he’s watching down on you, his school, and our city—I grew to love his LA lore. I will always cherish him when I go to meetings and pass through the intersection of Tracy and St. George. My deepest condolences in your time of loss.
Dear LaBonge Family—I knew Tom from City Hall but our relationship was warmer than the typical political “friendship.” I would see Tom all over town—at Nick’s Cafe or on a trail or on some random sidewalk of our city. Tom was always attentive, always inclusive and kind. It is not grandiose to say that he inhabited a wonderful version of Los Angeles; and when we saw the city with his eyes, he helped all of us feel more at home here. Tom knew that LA was worthy of our commitment and love. I only hope you feel some of that love heading back in your direction in this sad time.
I live around the corner from Tom and remember when we moved in, he pulled up, called out a hello and welcomed my family to the neighborhood. He sang our neighborhood’s praises and then gave us a map of Griffith Park, recommending we explore, explore, explore it! He left an air of enthusiasm as he went on his way.
Tom was my LAPD Football coach (Defensive Line) in 1981-1983. We had many discussions about our future endeavors. I always encouraged him to become a councilman after John Ferraro left office. Then we talked on occasions thereafter throughout my LAPD and other job career on the Westside. Tom loved the City of Los Angeles and we loved him back. He was a genuine, hard working advocate for his community. He was one of a kind, plus a great photographer of the cityscape of LA. which I used in the LAPD Community Centers. Tom was always there for any requests I might have throughout my career. I’m heartbroken by his passing!
To the family I offer you my deepest sympathy for your loss. Tom was truly Mr. Los Angeles.
Dear Family of Tom LaBonge – We are so deeply sorry for your loss. We absolutely loved Tom’s understanding of the need for and belief in the power of parks for democracy and public health. His love of Los Angeles, his caring attitude towards people and passion for creating ever more inspiring communities will be missed. The newly named summit is a great legacy in his memory. Be safe and take care!
Councilmember LaBonge always made me push to give more of myself to others. His genuine displayed concern and interest in others could be felt in his words and seen portrayed in his actions around the City. He will be missed but never forgotten. Thank you for sharing him with Los Angeles.
My parents knew Tom for decades. They first became acquainted and then friends through their mutual involvement (hiking, etc) in Griffith Park. Tom had the most jubilant and energetic nature, but he also focused on individuals. He made my parents feel like they were his best friends and the most important people in Los Feliz! What a unique and wonderful gift he had. My sincerest condolences to all his family.
Truly appreciated all his work and love of Griffith Park, including work to organize Huell Howser memorial at Observatory. Tom was in great spirits etc at the wonderful retirement send off at Universal. Thanks for sharing him with all of us.
I cycled to the Observatory 3 to 4 times a week in the morning before COVID, often Tom was there throwing a football or talking to the workers. I would always stop and chat with him. I was a member of City Club LA, as was Tom. The last time I visited with him was when he hosted a open air bus tour for Club members of DTLA…so full of LA history. He truly loved LA and is MR LOS ANGELES. I was so sad to learn of his passing…he will be missed. RIP Tom.
My prayers are with the LaBonge Family. Please have faith and remember God will give you the strength to endure the pain you feel. God will also give you the precious memories to remember your loved one. Focus only on the fun, caring and happy moments. When you do that, your tears will be tears of joy instead of tears of pain. Remember God’s words at Isaiah 41:10. You are not alone. God is with you.
Our blessings and support are with you at this time of loss. Councilmember LaBonge never stopped fighting for the city of Los Angeles.
Tom made everyone feel special. I was happy to have lunch with him at the Union Station 75th Anniversary. He made time at night to stop by my birthday party at the Spaghetti Factory. He rode with me on the fire engine down the hill from the Solstice Day hike above Griffith Observatory. I have so many happy memories of him. His yearly calendars of photos he took of Los Angeles were beautiful. He will always be special to me.
Just a few hours after learning of Tom’s passing, I happened to be driving on the Hyperion Bridge. I felt emotional as I remembered Tom’s dedication to the American flags that adorn the bridge for national holidays. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to drive that bridge without thinking of Tom.
I am so very sorry for you loss. Tom was such an amazing man. I was privileged to work for City Council alongside Tom for many years. He was and is the Cities true Angel. His enthusiasm for this City will forever be missed. RIP Tom.
To a great coach and someone who always had a smile on his face. A fellow barrister, you will be missed. Thank you for your energy and devotion to the City of Los Angeles.
All my sincere and deepest condolences to your family for your loss of an amazing and honorable person as Thomas Le Bonge.
Rest in peace! Sincerely yours, Ylse and Joseph Lazovsky
Just know for sure, He’s sooo HAPPY, sooo peaceful, and loved by the Lord. He just wants you to know that, and he says he will see you soon.
I had the privlege of working with Tom when I ran the Sherman Oaks Chamber. He was always the biggest fan of Sherman Oaks and what he could do to make it a better place. He would pick up the phone and call me to run an idea by me or to chat; always a gentleman. They don’t make them like Tom anymore. When I left, he came to my going away party with bread from the nuns!! He will be missed.
Tom LaBonge was simply a great man. He never forgot a name, or a phone number for that matter, and he really, truly cared about other people and of course the City of Los Angeles. He was a servant in many ways but also obviously a leader, these two traits are rarely found in one human being. I am elated that the Tom LaBonge Summit will be there for me to visit and remind me to remember him every time. I am proud to know Tom, and I can’t imagine how proud you must be to be a member of his family.
Tom LaBonge—what a beautiful human!!! I’ve thought of him quite often since he left public office. I’d think of his newsletter or his Facebook posts, and even playing with him in Farmville so many years ago. His enthusiasm for this city and his wide smile is sorely missed. I send heartfelt regards to his family. /Christy
Sending my deepest condolences to Mr. LaBonge’s family, friends, and fans. We lost such a force of nature with his passing. I will very much miss his random City Hall drop by visits. Everyone always knew when he was in the building. His excited voice carried through the halls as he greeted everyone, helped lost tourists, and played catch up with old staff. The last time I saw him he purchased Girl Scout cookies from my niece’s girl scout troop and then extended an offer to take her troop on a hike. We never got to take that hike with him but it was generous and lovable gestures like that that will make Tom so unforgettable. Rest in peace, Mr. Los Angeles!
Tom LaBonge was an exemplary and rare public servant. I loved seeing him on my hikes in Griffith Park. He made this big city seem like a small town. He will be missed.
I didn’t know Tom well, but from afar I was inspired by his dedication to serving the community, and his love for Griffith Park and Los Angeles. He is missed…but anyone who ever met him carries a little bit of his spirit with them.
Dear Tom’s Family:
Tom LaBonge was not only a friend and servant of the City of Los Angeles but he continued to give daily hope and inspiration that life was not only worth living but we should give it everything we had—and he role modeled this action at the highest level. Tom was an advocate for youth and seniors and only wanted what was best for all. I have spent my entire life and career in YMCA work and I can tell you how committed he was to serving youth and helping every young person to achieve their dreams by overcoming all obstacles and overcoming all challenges. He was just simply the best. I will miss him dearly! Sincerely, Alan Hostrup
Tom was such a remarkable person, a great public servant, and such a passionate fan of our city. I knew him when he worked for his predecessor, and connected with him throughout the years of his own service on the council. He left us too soon, but he leaves a very beautiful legacy for all future Angelenos.
To Tom’s entire family: The Delvacs send our heartfelt sympathy and condolences. This is so sad and such a loss for all of us. So many memories going back over 30 years, like the time Tom put a campaign sign in my front yard without asking—he knew it was ok. And when he would walk up our 47 steps to knock on the door to say hi or get a glass of water. Another time at the corner of Rowena and W. Silverlake after a storm and Tom in his dress shirt and tie getting the shovel out of his trunk to clear the street drain, and Sundays at Our Mother of Good Counsel, hikes in the park, and of course starting to walk precincts in the early morning of Sept 11, 2001 and then Tom suspending campaigning. With Tom our big city was but a small town. Now there is a big hole in the heart of the city. -Bill Delvac
I live in the Torreyson Flynn area where Tom LaBonge was very well liked. He would come to our neighborhood meetings, made sure we had good streets and services and was alway genuinely happy to see all of us. He will be missed.
Mr. LaBonge was unlike anyone I ever came across during my career as a Traffic Officer II for over 24 years we would often run into each other in the Los Feliz area while I was on patrol. He would always drive up and inquire if I was ok. He was well aware of the danger we often would face while in the scope of our duties. The City Of Los Angeles is a better place because of him. To his family I personally want to thank you for sharing him with us. David De La Torre
I am so sorry to hear of Tom’s passing. Los Angeles has lost her favorite son. I knew Tom when I worked for the City Council. I don’t know anyone who knew and loved Los Angeles as much as Tom did. Always smiling, always energetic and above all always humble. Thanks to him he allowed us to see the many wonderful things that L.A. had to offer. He also gave L.A. many sister cities which he took great pleasure in talking about why all these cities were L.A.’s sister cities. God bless you Tom; you will always be remembered and bring a smile to us all.
My name is Carol Pinel and I’m a widow of an LA city fire fighter Benjamin Pinel who passed away in 1984 in the line of duty at the Proud Bird Restaurant in Los Angeles. I attend the annual memorial ceremony for the past 35 years. Tom also attended each year if he could. My daughter was four months old at the time of my husband’s death. I would bring her to the ceremonies and Tom was so gracious to her and me every
time he saw us. I am from San Pedro and it is a a very tightknit town and he knew that. He always said, “I love San Pedro.” I know he loved the LA City Fire Department. He will always hold a special place in my heart. May he rest in peace.
Carol Pinel and Nicole Hoagland.
I live in Boyle Heights and used to take my dogs to have a coffee and walk around Hancock Park. One weekend a man by himself was walking. He petted the dogs and said, “Hi I’m Tom LaBonge and I’m running for re-election.” I advised Mr. LaBonge that I didn’t live in his district, but if I had, he would have my vote. It was a pleasant exchange and I always remembered him out there alone going door to door. People touch each other’s lives in big and small ways. This was just a small exchange I thought I’d share.
Tom was always willing to stop and meet me anywhere at anytime to give me a quick sound bite. Not being a native, Tom took pleasure in introducing me to great eating spots around the city. My most memorable times with Tom were lunch on the last day at Tom Bergin’s, and dinner on the last day of Papadakis Taverna with a group of local reporters. I miss his energy and the pride he had in LA.
As we always ended our conversations at City Hall, I love you Tom, till next time.
There was not and has never been a true historian of the city of Los Angeles more knowledgeable than Tom LaBonge. Tom was Mr. “Fact Check” when it came to any details about how the west was won in the great city of Los Angeles. He always educated listeners when he talked about anything that had to do with the City of Los Angeles. I had the pleasure of meeting him a few years before he was elected to the Los Angeles City Council while he was working for the DWP. Always a pleasure to listen to and learn about things that existed before our time. I am sure he is giving speaking tours in heaven.
Gone too soon. Tom LaBonge is a model for all Los Angeles civic leaders. Passionate, committed and dedicated to serving our city. We should create an official LaBonge Ambassador of Los Angeles leadership position for our city. He made us proud to be Angelinos. Que Dios Te Bendiga Thomas!
Last January at my home near Griffith Park I opened the front door and there was Tom LaBonge with a Hart Street signed he scavenged in the San Fernando Valley. This Hart Street sign points the way to Tom LaBonge’s heart in my back yard.
I had the pleasure of working with Tom as a volunteer to help save La Rocha trail, Cahuenga Peak and the canyon behind my home called Timmons Trail. It was a pleasure and a highlight of my life working with Tom on these projects. Every time I hike up to the Hollywood sign from my home, I can’t help but think of Tom. Only a week before his passing, I took a friend up to the sign and told her some Tom stories. I am honored to have these amazing memories of Tom, a man who was larger than life. Sending light and love to his family and friends. I look forward to hiking up to Tom LaBonge Summit.
RIP, John 3:16 -Grandma
Tom LaBonge…what a role model of public service!!!! Your enthusiasm will be missed greatly by this City of the Angels and its residence. My thoughts and prayers of memories and comfort to the LaBonge Family
Tom was a wonderful representative of Los Angeles for our German-American Community in Los Angeles. I served from 2000-2005 at the German Consulate in Los Angeles and had the pleasure to see him in action as a board member of the LA-Berlin Sister City Committee.
I met Tom through a mutual friend Sandy Tennant. Tom was such a wonderful and kind man, it was devastating to learn of his passing. He gave me my first pumpkin bread for Thanksgiving! I go to the convent each year for pumpkin bread. I have so many memories of Tom that it would be hard to recount all of them but I miss him so much and it’s hard to believe that I won’t ever see him again. RIP Tom
Dear La Bonge Family, my sincere condolences for the huge lose of our beloved Tom. He was a great man of lots of compassion and caring. I worked with Tom during my career with the City and on forming the Los Angeles Beirut Sister Cities. May God give him comfort in his kingdom and give you health and strength to carry on. He will be always remembered for his wonderful deeds.
A remarkable man, introduced to me by Lily. May he be helped along the way to
wherever we go, as he helped so many others by his example and actions.
We will miss you Tom!
Mr. LaBonge was an amazing man. He would call the Sanitation Executive Office on Thursdays to thank us for doing a good job after his trash bins were picked up. Always cheerful and upbeat. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. I will miss his weekly calls.
RIP Los Angeles City Councilman Tom La Bonge. One of my first gigs was actually working on a campaign for Beth Garfield who ran against him in 2001. (He won.) When I last saw him was in February. He was helping us as a vocal supporter of the Enlightenment Plaza permanent supportive housing project in Rampart Village, which thank God we were able to get approved by the City before this pandemic.
Never camera shy, he enthusiastically yielded to my request to record a video testimonial from him as we waited for our hearing. “But first!” he said. “Have you ever seen the city from the top of City Hall?” I hadn’t, so away we went. He spoke to every single person we passed on our way up the floors. “Where are you from?” “Welcome to Los Angeles!”
He then turned to me and told me that it was so important to learn just a little bit about everyone you encounter because everyone has a story you can learn from for the better. I’ll never forget that lesson he taught me because it came in not just words but he walked the talk. He was a true cheerleader for our city and its people and will be missed.
Thank you for sharing Tom with everyone in Los Angeles. His ability to take delight in everyone and everything about the city should be a model for us all. Also his genuine personal interest in how each person he met was doing and his ability to remember who would want to know what. We were all very lucky to have known him.
I was dining at a Los Feliz restaurant and there he was…Tom La Bonge! He noticed I recognized him and took the time to come over and say hello and we had a brief conversation about the venue and my meal…my date was awestruck. I thanked him for his service and enthusiasm. He was a gem! My condolences to his family and friends AND thank you for sharing him with us all. God Bless.
When he won the council seat, his brother who lives near me in Glendale went to the market, and bought all of the Times newspapers to give to friends and family. He was proud. I too was proud to have known him. Different and awesome spirit in the room…Be safe and proud…MJH
Our deepest condolences for the LaBonge family and the entire city of Los Angeles. Since we moved to Silver Lake almost seventeen years ago, Tom has been a friendly presence in the neighborhood, always stopping to say hello and asking how we’re doing. We will miss him, as we know the entire city will as well.
Simply the best LA City Councilman of all time, I often said when I sold my home in Hollywood and moved to Atwater Village, Tom won’t be my Councilman anymore; it was sad. A true public servant for the underserved in Los Angeles. He will be missed.
Our deep condolences.
Sincere condolences. I never met Tom but his brother Mark and I have become friends through our work over the last 7, 8 years or so. I know how close the family is. So sorry for the loss.
Sending prayers of comfort to your family in the loss of our “Mr. LA! The last time I saw him he was handing me a calendar the Rec & Parks Executive Office and his energy, as always was so uplifting! He was a giant for the City of LA but more importantly a part of your lives. God bless you all!
So sorry for your loss.
I don’t even think Tom knew my name! The first time I saw him, he came over after a meeting we both attended with a HUGE smile and greeted me like we were old friends. When I was asked how I knew Tom LaBonge…I said maybe he thought I was someone else! However, he did it every time I saw him after that. What a beaUtiful soul. Sorry I won’t have another chance to see his light, but so very grateful to have shared energy with him. 💙
I first met Tom when he was working for John Ferraro and I was working for Ed Edelman. We shared some projects including Pan Pacific Park. As you know, Tom was one of a kind; a force of nature. By his example he made me a better staff person and a better human overall. I am so glad he had so many years of service to the City he loved, but so sad that it ended all too soon. I miss him as I know many, many others do too. My thoughts are with you.
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