Ray Remy, a trusted advisor to former L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley who helped plan the Wilshire Boulevard subway and 1984 Olympics — two projects that defined Bradley’s legacy — and run the city during a time of economic growth and civic optimism, has died.
Remy passed away Saturday at Huntington Memorial Hospital after falling ill just after Thanksgiving, his granddaughter Abigail Edwards said. He was 82.
Known as Bradley’s right-hand man, Remy worked for eight years as the mayor’s chief of staff and deputy mayor. It was an unlikely pairing: Remy was a white Republican; Bradley, a black Democrat.
Remy, known for having an analytical mind, preferred to lay out the pros and cons of a particular position to Bradley, rather than to give his opinion. He once told a reporter that he was a low-profile operator by choice because he could achieve more by staying out of the limelight.
He was known as the “issues” man among political insiders for his insight on transportation, water, economic development and other topics.
Warm and quick-witted and a man who favored conservative-looking suits and striped ties, Remy was described in a 1977 article in The Times as “the best kind of player — the kind of player who doesn’t look like he’s playing the game.”
Remy was born in San Francisco in 1937. His father was a dentist in the Army Reserve Medical Corps and his mother was a homemaker.
He attended Claremont Men’s College, later known as Claremont McKenna College, where he was student body president and played on the tennis team. He received his master’s degree in public policy from UC Berkeley.
Sandra Shortridge, whom Remy first met in the fifth grade and reconnected with later in life, became his wife. The couple moved to Los Angeles in the 1960s, where he worked for the League of California Cities.
Remy later helped run the Southern California Assn. of Governments, where he worked on a regional transportation plan that proposed a new downtown subway line, said Mark Pisano, who succeeded Remy as the group’s executive director.
Bradley was chair of the board at Southern California Assn. of Governments at the time and worked with Remy on the transit-focused transportation blueprint.
At the time, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., had already started construction on mass transit systems, and so there was new focus on expanding Southern California’s options. Bradley won the mayor’s race in 1973 after promising voters that he would build a world-class transit system to rival those of other cities.
Remy joined Bradley’s City Hall team in 1976.
Los Angeles voters had repeatedly shot down ballot measures to raise money to fund transportation, but victory came in 1980 when Bradley’s administration secured federal funding for a rail project that would stretch from Union Station to North Hollywood.
In 1979, Bradley praised Remy in a work performance evaluation, according to Remy’s family. “Superb administrator in every respect. Broad knowledge of issues, quick analytical mind, very diligent worker, gets along well with others, has excellent judgment,” the review said.
Pisano credited Remy for his consensus-building approach on transportation and economic development. Under Bradley, “Los Angeles had an unusual period of working together and getting things done,” Pisano said.
Remy left City Hall in 1984 to head the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, where he helped lead the fight to keep the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, pushed for the Alameda Corridor transportation project and created an export-import program.
He also served on several local and state boards and commissions, and as director of the California Employment Development Department.
Remy also received federal recognition, serving as president of the American Society for Public Administration and was elected into the National Academy of Public Administration.
Known to family members as Papas, Remy is survived by his wife, Sandra; two daughters, Kimber Edwards and Erin Petrossi; nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
A memorial is planned for Jan. 11 at Claremont McKenna College.