In Memory

Richard "Alex" Alexander - Class Of 1953

Richard Alex Alexander

Richard "Alex" Alexander, a former Culver City mayor and councilman who was instrumental in shaping the city's newly established Redevelopment Agency in the 1970s, has died. He was 68. Alexander, an expert in nuclear electronics, died July 21, 2004 of pulmonary failure at Brotman Medical Center in Culver City.

A Culver City resident since 1968, Alexander began his career in public service as a member of the city's Parks and Recreation Commission in 1971. From 1974 to 1990, he served four terms on the City Council, including three one-year terms as the council-elected mayor. As a councilman, Alexander sat on the board of the city's Redevelopment Agency, which was established in 1971. The agency's first major project, Fox Hills Mall, opened in 1975.

"He took a leadership role in redeveloping the city and making sure that there was enough recreational space for children and families to enjoy," said Culver City historian Julie Cerra. "He was an advocate for the entire community -- that was his legacy."

Every year at Christmastime in the 1970s and '80s, Alexander donned a white beard and red suit to play Santa Claus for thousands of kids in the city's parks, with his three daughters playing his elves during the early years.

"He had more energy and more love for this community than just about anybody you'll ever see," Cerra said. "He loved children, he loved people, he loved parks and he loved being a servant to the community. It was in his blood. He was the only councilman I ever heard of whose constituents threw him a party of thanks when he went off after his 16 years."

But Alexander's work in the city wasn't done when he left the City Council in 1990. In 1998, he was reappointed to what is now called the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission, a job he continued until his death.

A fourth-generation Californian, Alexander was born in Los Angeles in 1935 and grew up in South Pasadena. He received bachelor's and master's degrees in physics from UCLA.  Alexander worked at TRW in Redondo Beach from the mid-1960s to 1972 and again from 1981 to 1990. His last position was as manager of the electronics group. He contributed to various TRW research and development programs and developed hardware for such projects as the landers that touched down on Mars in NASA's 1970s Viking missions.  Best known for his innovative work in low-noise amplifiers for nuclear and optical sensor applications, he also ran his own research and development company, Nucleometrics, in Culver City in the 1970s and early '80s.

Alexander is survived by his wife, Ann "Andy," and daughters Karen, Deborah and Kim.

Los Angeles Times, July 23, 2004