Bill Rosendahl, the first openly gay man elected to the Los Angeles City Council, died on Wednesday (30 March) after a long battle with cancer.
He was 70.
Rosendahl was a staunch liberal who advocated for the homeless, gays and lesbians and other causes during his 2005-13 stint on the council.
He had announced in late 2012 that he would not be seeking reelection so he can focus on his battle with cancer. He endorsed his chief of staff Mike Bonin – also openly gay – as his successor and Bonin was elected.
‘My heart wants to ache, but instead swells with love when I think of Bill and the way he lived his life – open, without boundary or inhibition, full of generosity and compassion,’ Bonin wrote in a Facebook post.
‘There was no heart bigger, and no smile more impressive. He has left an indelible impression on all those he knew.’
Rosendahl had worked on the presidential campaigns of Robert F. Kennedy and George McGovern and also had a stint in the US Army counseling soldiers returning from the Vietnam War.
He then went to work as a television executive for Adelphia Communications, Century Cablevision, Group W, and TelePrompter. His profile grew as host of public affairs shows Local Talk, Week in Review and Beyond the Beltway featuring interviews with local and national politicians.
Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean recalled the first time she met Rosendahl in the early 1990s.
‘I remember being saddened when he told me that he had given up his life’s dream of running for office because he was an openly gay man,’ Jean said. ‘When he later ran for Los Angeles City Council and became the first openly gay man to win, it was an enormous achievement for all of us.
‘One of the things I always admired about Bill was how dedicated he was to the most marginalized people in our society, including the homeless and especially homeless LGBT kids. Even in his final year of life, Bill provided a room in his own house to a formerly homeless person from Venice Beach.’
Jean said she last saw Rosendahl at a Center event in September and describes him as being ‘as charismatic and optimistic as ever. Bill managed to live his beliefs to the end. He was one-of-a-kind and will be missed.’