Longtime civic leader Steven Rose dies of leukemia


CULVER CITY — Funeral services were conducted March 7 at Hillside Memorial Park and Cemetery for former City Councilman Steven Jerome Rose.

Rose died March 5 due to complications related to leukemia. He was 71.

A lifelong Culver City resident, Rose served for more than 30 years with the Culver City Chamber of Commerce before retiring last year. He was elected to the City Council in 2000 and re-elected in 2004. 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 and the construction of a new pedestrian bridge across Ballona Creek.

He also helped attract new businesses to the city including Trader Joe’s, Symantec and National Public Radio and helped lead the revitalization of downtown Culver City.

Rose also was instrumental in the re-opening of the historic Culver Theater as the new Kirk Douglas Theater. During his time in office, 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 councilman and a friend 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,” Weissman added. “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.”

He served as president and CEO of the Culver City Chamber of Commerce for more than three decades, beginning in 1987. He announced his retirement from the chamber last June, but in typical fashion, he stayed on with the chamber until a replacement could be found and left officially several months later than he planned.

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 said 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 Culver City schools, Rose said the chamber always took a leadership role in improving the community.

“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 last June. “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 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. The company handled upholstering for a variety of celebrity clients, including Hugh Hefner and the Playboy Mansion.

Rose also was active in philanthropic efforts and civic involvement. He served two terms on the Culver City Civil Service Commission and served on the city’s General Plan and Financial Plan Advisory Committee, the Culver City Unified School DistrictTask Force, Culver-Palms YMCA Board of Mangers, Culver City Homeowners Association and Culver City Sister Committee.

He also was president of the Culver City Historical Society, chairman of the Exceptional Children’s Foundation and chief financial officer of the Westside Economic Collaborative.

Rose also was an active member of the Culver City Exchange Club, where he served as president from 1981-82.

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 Exceptional Citizen of the Year in 2005.

He was a graduate of Culver City High School and earned his associate’s 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.

Those who wish to make a donation in Rose’s name can do so by contributing to the Exceptional Children’s Foundation at www.ecf.net/donate.

 

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