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In Memoriam

Gone But Not Forgotten

Roger Thornton

SMRR Co-founder, Steering Committee member, and longtime SMRR Treasurer Roger Thornton died unexpectedly from a heart attack on October 27.  He was almost 80 years old.  Roger and his wife Chris have two daughters, Jennifer and Stephanie, and two grandchildren, Logan and Emilia.

In 1978 Roger was a member of Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda’s Campaign for Economic Democracy (CED) when he and Chris came over to Cheryl Rhoden’s apartment one evening after we had lost the first Santa Monica rent control campaign.  Denny Zane, also a CED member, recognized Roger, who joined the meeting and became a member for life.

A few years ago, Roger was giving his speech for election to the Steering Committee, and he said “The day that Rent Control passed was the best day of my life.”  And what a party we had that night!

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Roger Thornton

Ed Hunsaker

In Memory of Ed Hunsaker

Ed Hunsaker played an important role in both the leadership and day-to-day operations of SMRR. For five years Ed was a volunteer on SMRR’s Tenant Hotline, our all-important lifeline for tenants in need of both vital information and moral support. Ed also served capably on the SMRR Steering Committee for approximately five years.

Ed always put his efforts where his values were and decided that SMRR was the organization most aligned with his personal values. In addition to SMRR, Ed was active in a number of other community organizations including Wilmont, the Santa Monica Democratic Club, and the Sierra Club. He was so well liked that, in an informal sense, he served as an ambassador for SMRR in the broader community.

Ed lived his beliefs, and he was smart. He thought deeply about issues and asked good questions before reaching a conclusion. A Santa Monica renter for 37 years, Ed cared a lot about tenant protections, community values, and, most importantly, what was best for Santa Monica.

Ed will be missed but not forgotten. May his memory inspire our important work moving forward.

In Memory of Catherine Eldridge

Catherine Eldridge, a fiery local activist, has passed. She fought like hell to save the 200-resident Village Trailer Park on Colorado. She helped the old and disabled at the Village get food and other necessities, including rides to doctors and dentists. She also worked for an agency that helped people with developmental disabilities.

The developer wanted to (and finally did) build a large number of market-rate apartments. The City Council changed the zoning to allow that to happen and approved the project. At the urging of an enraged community, they did set a condition, allowing time for the many low and moderate income residents to find other housing. Catherine was instrumental in getting a judge to push the developer to move trailers to the side of the lot, where some residents could live until they died. Catherine was one of those lucky few.

Catherine was appointed to the SMRR Steering Committee for a few years. Later she became a member of both the Pico Neighborhood Association and Mid City Neighbors’ Boards.

She tried so hard to save her neighbors’ homes on those peaceful walking paths, with 167 trees. We’ll miss Catherine and the Village Trailer Park.

Betty Mueller

In Memory of Betty Mueller

Betty Mueller was a mainstay of our progressive Santa Monica community for more than 30 years. She was an activist with the Santa Monica Chapter of the Campaign for Economic Democracy, Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, the Santa Monica Democratic Club, the League of Women Voters and the SMC Emeritus College.

Betty was born in Chicago Illinois in 1925. She was active in the local USO and was inspired to become a nurse. She worked for the Veterans’ Administration, first in Chicago and then in Brentwood CA where she was a supervising and training nurse.

After retiring from the VA, Betty continued her activism as an indefatigable volunteer, in Tom Hayden’s office, on the SMRR campaigns and hotline, as a Wilmont Board member and as a Getty Museum Docent to name a few.

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Santa Monica Mayor Ken Genser – November 18, 1950 – January 9, 2010

by Patricia Hoffman, SMRR Chair

Our beloved Mayor and SMRR leader Ken Genser died Saturday afternoon, January 9, after an extended illness. He has been on Council since 1988 and has been a consistent vote for the needs of the residents of Santa Monica. His leadership on renters’ rights and affordable housing has helped keep our City such a wonderful place to live.

His humor, intelligence and strength have allowed him to be an innovative problem solver and made him one our most effective Councilmembers ever.

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Ken Genser