A touching and joyful tribute was held this past week for former LA City Councilmember Tom LaBonge, who served our Los Feliz district for years. Hundreds of family and friends attended the Celebration of Life event appropriately held at Travel Town in his beloved Griffith Park.
Tom died January 7 this past year. October’s special because his birthday would have been October 6. Because of his passion and love for the city, he was known as “Mr. Los Angeles.” But we knew him as “Mr. Los Feliz” and he could be seen everywhere from picking up trash on our streets to making PA announcements at Gelson’s.
His wife Brigid told the audience that the day he died he had hiked in Griffith Park for three hours and paid visits to various local residents. “His usual daily routine,” she shared.
Tom’s daughter Mary-Cate and son Charles both took part in the celebration. Mary-Cate spoke eloquently about her enthusiastic and endearing dad, acknowledging that “he really belonged to everyone.”
Long-time colleague and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said how fitting it was that Tom was bestowed with having the LaBonge Panorama on Mount Hollywood named after him. Perhaps, not a coincident that the large LaBonge family (he had seven bothers) grew up on Panorama Terrace in Silver Lake, the mayor pointed out, adding that he had a way of making everyone feel special.
Super Bowl champion Mike Haynes shared memories of his high school football days at Marshall where he played quarterback with “Tommy,” an All-League center.
Los Angeles City Council members also attended the event, along with Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn who served on the LA City Council with Tom.
Even an Elvis impersonator made an appearance playing some of Tom’s favorite songs. In high school, Tom had his own band and was known to do a pretty good likeness of his rock ‘n’ roll idol.
As LFIA’s Chris Laib said afterwards, “I am somewhat haunted by my experiences with Tom to this day. I cannot walk, hike or run in Griffith Park without stopping to pick up trash. A humble lesson learned from the great man—and one many of us continue to honor.”
“Enjoy and love the great city of LA”: Tom LaBonge
October 6, 1953 -January 7, 2021
Photo at top: Mayor Eric Garcetti Greets Celebration Crowd.
Photos by George M. LaBonge