LAKEWOOD - Friends, family, fellow elected officials and members of the public paid their final respects Sunday afternoon to Larry Van Nostran, whose name has been synonymous with Lakewood politics for 37 years.
The public memorial service was held at the Weingart Ballroom inside The Centre at Sycamore Plaza.
A couple hundred people gathered to remember Van Nostran, who was the city's longest serving council member and was in his 10th term, as someone determined to end the chaos that defined Lakewood politics in the 1970s and bring good government back to the city, City Manager Howard Chambers said.
"Not bad for an old farm boy from Ohio," Chambers said, referring to Van Nostran's native state.
Chambers, who knew Van Nostran about 40 years, also reflected on the councilman's ability to face adversity with a sense of humor.
In December 2010, surgeons had to amputate Van Nostran's left foot.
"His biggest concern was how it would affect his golf game," Chambers said. "His game actually improved."
Van Nostran died Nov. 9 at home following a progressive lung disorder. He had been released from the hospital a week before his death after doctors diagnosed his condition as incurable. He was 79, said Lakewood spokesman Bill Grady.
The City Council must decide within 60 days of Van Nostran's death whether to appoint someone or hold a special election to fill the remainder of his term, which ends in March 2015.
If a special election is called, state law says it must be held on the next election date, but that date must be 115 or more days from the date it is scheduled. Election dates in odd-numbered years are March, June and November, but the March 5, 2013, election date is already less than 100 days away.
The next option is June 4, 2013.
If the council decides to hold a special election on that date, it would cost $80,000 to $100,000, said Lakewood City Clerk Denise Hayward.
The council will consider these options at an upcoming meeting, Grady said.
Van Nostran moved to Lakewood from Ohio in 1958, four years after the city was incorporated. He was active in Lakewood civic life for more than 50 years, including membership in the Elks Club, Jaycees, Kiwanis Club, Lakewood Pan American Association, and Masonic Lodge & Scottish Rite.
Van Nostran began his service in Lakewood in 1971 as a member of the Traffic and Safety Commission and was first elected to the City Council in 1975. He ran unopposed in 1999 - a first in the city's history - and served nine terms as mayor. His last term as mayor was 2011-12.
In 1981, Van Nostran founded the Lakewood Youth Sports Hall of Fame. It honors Lakewood youth and helps promote a vigorous sports and recreational culture in the city. It was nationally recognized by Sports Illustrated magazine when Lakewood was named Sportstown USA in 2004.
Van Nostran had served continuously since 1990 as president of the Executive Committee of the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority, the largest municipal self-insurance agency in the state.