Friday, December 3, 2010

Article of the Day - About a man of the decades

It's been a while since I've sat down and written here on the DL, and to all two or three of my readers, I apologize profusely. But something happened today that has prompted me to sit down and hit the keyboard.

Los Angeles is a giant city, full of douchebags giant egos that are euphemistically known as "big personalities," but unfortunately, it often seems that behind the personality there is little character.

That could not be further removed from what we're talking about here.

(When you're on the masthead of the LA Times homepage, and it links to a post about how you were pretty much universally revered, you're a legit big deal.)

Joe Cerrell will be remembered by the world for his contributions to politics, PR, the city of Los Angeles, the state of California, etc. His accomplishments are well-documented, as is the fact that he was one of the most genuine and likable people you could ever hope to meet.

He will be remembered by me as the man who not only gave me my start in PR but was a shining example of what all young professionals should aspire to be.

While I'm sure the facts that he was a huge baseball fan and the most loyal of Trojans didn't hurt, in the spring of 2005, he took a chance on a young and rudderless undergraduate PR major/student athlete, who was desperate for an internship to finish out his final semester.

Oh yeah, it was also baseball season. Judging by the fact that I had an awful time finding an internship that spring, not too many employers were willing to take on a candidate with the extremely restrictive schedule that I was facing. He had no such qualms.

When it became clear over the course of my internship that public affairs was not what I was going to end up doing with my PR degree and, therefore, I was not a prospect for a full time position, he counseled me on building my network and navigating the job market.

When my internship was long over, and I was firmly entrenched in misery at my job at Crespi, he wrote me a persona, hand-written note and invited me to the Cerrell Associates holiday party, where he greeted me as though I was still one of his own.

I could go on all night, but that's just how this man was, and I'm sure he never even gave it a second thought. He was a shining example of how to be a well rounded individual: an outstanding professional, an outstanding family man and an outstanding mentor and friend.

No, we definitely didn't lose a big personality today. We lost a true giant. Rest in peace, Joe. Everything I am as a professional, I owe to you. My thoughts and prayers are with your family.

Joe Cerrell, political consultant to the likes of John F. Kennedy and Jerry Brown, dies at 75

Joe Cerrell, a legendary political consultant and consummate schmoozer whose unrelenting but principled style won respect from allies and opponents, died Friday of complications related to pneumonia at St. John's Pleasant Valley Hospital in Camarillo. He was 75.

Cerrell’s list of clients and friendships read like a who’s who of politics from the 1950s forward — John F. Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, Al Gore, Dianne Feinstein, Willie Brown, Jesse Unruh and both Pat Brown and his son, Gov.-elect Jerry Brown. Instrumental to the careers of numerous politicians, he counted their triumphs among his greatest pleasures and their setbacks among his greatest disappointments.

"Joe Cerrell was a great personal friend and one of the pioneering political consultants in California and the U.S.,” Gore said. “Throughout his life, he was also a great champion of progressive political causes. He advised presidents, candidates for many offices at the national, state and local level, and used his skills and knowledge to help average Americans through times of triumph and trouble.”

In a recent video tribute to Cerrell, Jerry Brown said Cerrell “was around before even the term political consultant was invented.” He added: “When I first thought of running for office for the junior college board of Los Angeles at the end of 1968, he was the first person I spoke with.” With Cerrell’s help, recalled Brown, he finished "first among 124 candidates" for the community college board. (more)


  1. There are too few real role models these days, which makes the passing of the great ones even more difficult. I'm sorry for Mr. Cerrell's loss.

    Nice to read the DL again, although I wish it were under happier circumstances.

  2. Without a doubt the reason why the man was so universally respected and loved. I had the pleasure of meeting him, and his grandson,once at a USC Trojans baseball game. Of course, where else would a good Grandpa be with his grandson...just like yours was, sitting right next to me. He seemed to be a genuinely nice man-- contrary to many people involved in politics who can be so egotistical and untrustworthy. He will be missed.