Larry Van Nostran, who has served continuously on the Lakewood city council since 1975, died at his home at the age of 79 Saturday, the city announced.
“It is with a sense of deep personal loss and the recognition that a uniquely dedicated public servant has been taken from us too soon, that we mourn the death of long-time Lakewood City Council Member Larry Van Nostran,” said Mayor Diane DuBois.
Van Nostran, who had been diagnosed with an incurable and progressive lung disorder, had been released from a hospital last week, and died at his home with his wife Charlene at his side. His passing was reported by Lakewood city manager Howard Chambers, who has served in that appointed job since 1976.
“I’ve known Larry throughout my entire career in Lakewood,” Chambers said in an announcement on the city's website. “For me, he was a mentor, an advocate and a friend. For Lakewood, he was a pillar of strength. In Larry, I saw a man who always fought the good fight, who never wavered in his convictions, and who lived and breathed the genuine spirit of his city each day.”
Van Nostran was born in Ohio and moved to Lakewood in 1958, four years after dairy farms had been converted to a master-planned suburb and the city was incorporated. He was active in the Elks Club, Jaycees, Kiwanis, Pan American Association and the Masonic Lodge & Scottish Rite, the city reported.
He was appointed to the city's Traffic and Safety Commission in 1971 and as an elected councilman he rotated into the mayor's seat nine times. Since 1990, he was president of the executive committee of the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority, the largest municipal self-insurance agency in the state.
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Van Nostran was the longest-serving council member in Lakewood’s history with 37 years on the governing body. He was currently serving his tenth term on the council.
"He has very much been been a pillar for that city for many many years and I know he'll definitely be missed in the community," Cerritos mayor Jim Edwards, who grew up in Lakewood, told Patch. "Larry had a wealth of knowedge for the city of Lakewood and was involved in lot of its progress -- his footprint is definitely stamped all over Lakewood."
One of Van Nostran’s proudest achievements was the 1981 founding of the Lakewood Youth Sports Hall of Fame and its sustainment for more than 30 years. The Hall of Fame has honored thousands of Lakewood youth during that time and has helped promote a vigorous sports and recreational culture in the city. In 2004, Lakewood was nationally recognized by Sports Illustrated magazine, which named the city Sportstown USA.
In addition to his wife, Charlene, Van Nostran is survived by his sons Denis and David, five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the Friends of the Lakewood Sheriff’s Station, 5130 Clark Avenue, Lakewood, CA 90712 or to Christ Presbyterian Church of Lakewood, 5225 Hayter Avenue, Lakewood, CA 90712.
Funeral services will be announced on the city of Lakewood's website.
- City News Service contributed to this report.