John Parsons, one of the most civically engaged citizens in Redondo Beach history, passed away Thursday morning at age 61.
“We have just lost a wonderful man,” Mayor Steve Aspel posted on social media site Facebook.
“John Parsons, a man who rarely lost a political debate, lost his battle against a stroke. He passed away at 7:40 this morning.”
Parsons long took pride in the fact that he had not missed a City Council meeting since the 1980s, first as a concerned citizen, later as a city commissioner, and then as a two-term councilman.
“The city lost one of its biggest supporters today. I am deeply saddened by John’s passing,” Aspel said in a press release issued Thursday afternoon. “John was a beacon for progress and prosperity in Redondo Beach and the South Bay. He will be fondly remembered as a talker, but what speaks loudest is his legacy of a wonderful family, and accomplishments and awards too long to list.
“I will miss his sense of humor, he was one of a few that could give a joke and take it, too.”
Parsons was at Tuesday night’s meeting, at his station as one of the city’s most civically active residents. He spoke glowingly about new public art projects and, as was his habit, was among the last to leave council chambers, conversing with folks after the meeting’s end.
But then Parsons, a director with the RB Chamber of Commerce and a city planning commissioner, grew disoriented and “a bit wobbly,” as Aspel described it, before suffering what appeared to be a full-blown stroke. Paramedics were on scene within five minutes and transported Parsons to Little Company of Mary Hospital.
Aspel, who has known Parsons since childhood, said doctors confirmed that Parsons had suffered a stroke, and declared him in critical condition Wednesday. Tragically, his condition never improved.
Born Mar. 1, 1953, Parsons grew up in Westchester and settled in Redondo Beach in 1987. He is survived by is wife, Mary Ann, and daughters Nicole and Danielle.
He was a founding member and original Chair of the Los Angeles Air Force Regional Alliance, which successfully protected Los Angeles Air Force Base from being closed or moved.
He successfully led the effort to retain the 310 area code. He has been a founder and/or presided over many community organizations, including Jaycees, Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce, Redondo Beach Economic Development Council, South Bay Association of Chambers of Commerce, South Bay Cities Council of Governments. In recognition of his contributions to the region, the South Bay Association of Chambers of Commerce named an award in his honor: the John J. Parsons SBACC Business Citizenship Award.
“John was at every meeting in the community,” councilmember Matt Kilroy said. “It wasn’t considered a meeting in Redondo Beach without John. He had a knack for getting people involved, that’s how I got started in public service.”
The city’s flag is being flown at half-mast in honor of Parsons.
A funeral mass will be held at American Martyrs Church, located on 624 15th Street in Manhattan Beach on Friday, Aug. 30 at 10:30 AM. The family requests that guests wear Tommy Bahama/Hawaiian shirts or colorful island-style business attire. A reception will be held at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center immediately following the service.
In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made to the Redondo Beach Rotary Club John Parsons Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 411 Redondo Beach CA 90277. An obituary is forthcoming; check back soon at easyreadernews.com.