The Legacy of Dan Patacchia survives

This photo of Mayor Emeritus Dan Patacchia hangs on a side wall of the Mike Balkman Council Chambers, re-named after former Mayor Balkman’s untimely death in 2001. It is part of a vintage collection of city trustees/council members that the Culver City

One of the advantages of living in Culver City from birth, from a line of Lugos who came to California in the 1770s, is that you know it has taken a lot of earnestly working people to make this a wonderful place to live.

That is probably why I cringe every time I hear historic names mispronounced, like Higuera, or more recent leaders like Dan Patacchia, for whom Conference room 1A at City Hall was rededicated in 1998. It was renamed to honor Mayor Emeritus Patacchia by City Council action.

Dan Patacchia, a native of Pennsylvania, arrived in Los Angeles in 1941. He and his wife, Lillian, moved in 1948 to Culver City, where they raised their daughter, Nancy, saw two grandsons grow up and took care of their great-grandson. After finding wartime work at Lockheed, Dan chauffeured noted movie industry legends like David O. Selznick and Gregory Peck, while working part-time in real estate. By 1950, he built his Culver Park Realty on Overland Avenue, and never completely retired. Dan passed away on Feb. 11, 1994, just five days short of his 78th birthday. His last active day included lunch with his son-in-law, and time at the golf range.

Patacchia served on the Culver City Council for eight years, (1960-68), acting as mayor six of those years (1962-68). It was during his tenure that Fox Hills was annexed to Culver City, (1964), the city celebrated its 50th anniversary and Dan traveled with a delegation to Uruapan, Mexico as the mayor, to formalize our first commitment to the Sister City program. He played an active leadership role in the community, in real estate organizations, the Chamber of Commerce and as a member of the Culver City Exchange Club, receiving much recognition for his efforts.

Dan Patacchia was the consummate politician, in the best sense of the word. He always seemed to know what to say and how to say it. Although he decided not to run for a third term (no limits then), Dan remained active politically, and after his friend Kenny Hahn decided to retire as Los Angeles County Supervisor, Dan worked on Yvonne Brathwaite Burke’s successful campaign for that office. He managed the campaign of a local municipal court judge, (when we had the courthouse where the Clayton Library is today), and he supported many who were successfully elected to local offices, including council members, candidates for board of education, and City Clerk and City Treasurer (when they were in our charter as elected positions).

The dedication of the Patacchia Conference Room was accomplished prior to Councilmember Mike Balkman’s retirement from the council that month. It was overflowing with Patacchia family members and friends. Balkman referred to Patacchia as his mentor in his remarks. Culver City has been lucky to enjoy a wealth of dedicated leaders.

(Note: The “cch” in Patacchia sounds like “Ch” in Charlie – I have given up on Higuera.)