Services Held For Former Mayor Steven Rose
Served as Councilman, Mayor and Chamber President
March 8, 2018
When I received the call on Monday at 2:40 pm that my good friend Steven Rose had succumbed to leukemia it felt like someone took the air out of the room I was in.
Like many others in Culver City we relied on Steve and the loss was deep.
Steve served as Mayor of Culver City and was elected in 2000 and re-elected in 2004 to serve on the Culver City Council. He led the Culver City Chamber of Commerce as President/CEO for 30 years. He was 71.
Steve, a lifelong Culver City resident, planned to travel after retiring but true to his city he would remain a resident of the city he loved. Before he fell ill he told me recently that he would have a new address in Culver City one day. True to his word he remained in Culver City just with a new address.
He was my go-to guy for information. You could ask him anything and he had the detail down pat and could read between the lines like no one I've ever seen.
I don't think Steve ever paid a late charge or bank fee in his life. He was meticulous. When he would stop by my office and see all the chaos I live in he was aghast and hollered at me, "Hadland, this is nuts, I'm going to send you to Jewish business school."
I heard stories about the many times he helped others I reflected on the times he helped me. He gave me the "shirt off his back." His modesty in taking credit for things leads me to believe that we only knew a small portion of what Steve had done for people.
A crowd of well over 500 showed up for the service including the Mayor and about a dozen past mayors, city employees including police officers and firefighters. It literally was a who's who of Culver City.
During his time on the council he served as mayor in 2004 and helped spearhead numerous city initiatives, including the construction of a new Senior Citizens Center, construction of a new pedestrian bridge across Ballona Creek, attraction of many new businesses to the city, including Trader Joe's, Symantec and National Public Radio (NPR) and the revitalization of Downtown Culver City, including the creation of a new theater complex and parking structure. He was also instrumental in the re-opening of the historic Culver Theater as the new Kirk Douglas Theater. All of this was accomplished through some of the worst economic times since the Great Depression with a close to $35 billion state budget deficit and the state government reallocating large sums of city resources to help solve its own budget shortfalls. During his time in office, however, the city's annual budget grew from $92 million to $139 million.
"Steve cared deeply about Culver City, its past, present and future," said Andy Weissman, a former Culver City Mayor and friend of Rose's for more than 35 years. "Steve had deep roots in Culver City, decades of service to our community and a dedication to making Culver City even better. There is a difference between believing you can make a difference and actually making a difference. To make any difference you need to get involved. It isn't enough to sit back and criticize, you need to step up and do, not just talk. Steve was part of this community his entire life. Steve participated in the City's evolution and development for as long as I can remember. Through his decades of service and involvement, Steve epitomized what it means to give back to one's community. Culver City is the beneficiary of Steve's lifetime of volunteering, serving, and giving."
Despite his time on the City Council, Rose was probably best known as the community's strongest and most active voice in support of Culver City businesses. He served as President/CEO of the Culver City Chamber of Commerce for over three decades, beginning in 1987, announcing his retirement in June of 2017. In typical fashion, Rose stayed on with the chamber until a replacement could be found and left officially several months later.
At the time Rose said that he enjoyed the "great opportunity to serve the business community of Culver City in making Culver City a destination for business, customers and more importantly the entire community of Culver City."
In ending his 30 years as the chief spokesperson of the business community, Rose stated that the Chamber's influence in helping Culver City succeed stood out in his mind as the overall accomplishment of his tenure. Whether it was the chamber's support of Sony Pictures Entertainment's comprehensive development plan, the revitalization of a tired mall into Westfield Culver City or support of the local school bond and parcel tax to improve CCUSD schools, Rose said the chamber always took a leadership role in improving the community.
He added that the chamber was heavily involved in the downtown charrette that started the revitalization of Downtown Culver City and a wide array of city initiatives and school-related activities.
"I am proud to have led this chamber during a time when we focused not just on the success of Culver City businesses but on the success of our entire community," Rose said at the time. "I don't think every chamber does that, but I have always encouraged the chamber to look at the big picture because a successful community means successful businesses, even if some of our positions weren't always popular."
Rose cited the chamber's support of the local sales tax increase in 2012 after the state eliminated the Culver City Redevelopment Agency as one of those difficult positions. After all, no business wanted to see taxes increase, but Rose said it was more important to make sure that the city remained healthy and didn't have to cut people or programs.
During his time as a chamber executive, Rose developed a national reputation for his leadership on behalf of the business community. He was a graduate of the Institutes for Organization Management at Stanford University and spent four years on the board of the Western Association of Chamber Executives. He earned a number of industry awards, including the prestigious 2013 Russell Pettit Memorial Award for chamber excellence and a lifelong commitment and service to the chamber industry and the Thomas Crail Award for Exceptional Service to the Westside Council of Chambers of Commerce.
Prior to his chamber experience, Rose ran the family's upholstery business, Fred Rose Upholstery Co., out of a 3,500-square-foot building on Sepulveda Boulevard. Always focused on presentation, the shop had a sterling reputation for high-quality work and a pristine showroom. The company handled upholstering for a variety of celebrity clients, including Hugh Hefner and the Playboy Mansion.
Rose was also active in a wide array of philanthropic efforts and civic involvement. He served two terms as a Culver City Civil Service Commissioner and served on the city's General Plan and Financial Plan Advisory Committee, CCUSD Task Force, Culver-Palms YMCA Board of Mangers, Culver City Homeowners Association and Culver City Sister Committee. He was also president of the Culver City Historical Society,
Chairman of the Exceptional Children's Foundation and CFO of the Westside Economic Collaborative. Rose was also an active member of the Culver City Exchange Club, where he served as president from 1981-1982.
In both 1999 and 1976, when as chair, Rose served on the city's Charter Review Committee, recommending and drafting revisions to the city charter that were ultimately approved by Culver City voters.
Rose received a number of honors from a variety of community organizations, as well. He earned the 2007 President's Award from the Culver City Education Foundation, was a Lifetime Member of the Exceptional Children's Foundation and was honored with that organization's Award of Distinction as the ECF Exceptional Citizen of the Year in 2005.
He was a graduate of Culver City High School and earned his Associate Degree from Santa Monica College.
Rose is survived by his niece, Danielle Bristow (her spouse Don Schulte); his great niece Alayna Bristow; his great nephew, Andrew Bristow; his son Josh Biller (his spouse Crystal Flory-Biller) and his grandson, Blake Biller.
Funeral services were held at on Wednesday, March 7 at Hillside Memorial Park and Cemetery in Culver City and followed by a Celebration of Life at the DoubleTree Hotel, 6161 W. Centinela Avenue in Culver City. Rose, ever supportive of local businesses, requested that if flowers were preferred, any floral donations be made by ordering through the Eskridges' Culver Center Flowers.
Those who wish to make a donation in Rose's name can do so by contributing to the Exceptional Children's Foundation at http://www.ecf.net/donate/
I will so much miss talking to him. I will see you again my friend.
Special thanks to Geoff Maleman, Maleman Ink for contributing to this story.