Those who worked with George Battey during his two decades with the
city remembered him this week as a great communicator who had a
genuine interest in what the public had to say.
Battey, a former Burbank mayor, died July 22 at his home in Santa
Barbara after an apparent heart attack, family members said.
He was 76.
Battey, whose background was in construction engineering, was
elected to the City Council in 1991, and elected mayor by his council
colleagues in 1993. During 20 yeas of public service in Burbank, he
also served as a commissioner on the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena
Airport Authority, was a city planning board member and Metropolitan
Water District board member.
“Everything you’d think about in a civic leader is what George
Battey was,” City Manager Mary Alvord said Monday.
Battey was born Jan. 5, 1927, in Norfolk, Neb. After serving in
the Army during World War II and the post-war occupation of Korea, he
moved to Los Angeles, where he married Betty Jean Gilkey in 1950. The
couple moved to Burbank in 1953 and remained residents for 48 years.
Battey resigned from his post with the water district in October
2001 after suffering a heart attack. He and his wife moved to Santa
Barbara soon after.
Former Mayor Bill Wiggins said Battey took him under his wing when
Wiggins joined the council. He remembered Battey primarily for
improving communication between the council and the people of
Burbank. Battey created the “Ask the Mayor” cable TV program, and
held quarterly round-table discussions with business leaders.
“George had time for everybody,” Wiggins said. “You never felt
like you were being rushed with George.”
Battey also held the first mayor’s youth conference and personally
visited every school in the city to talk to students, Alvord said.
“To say, ‘I’m not going to send a staffer, I’m going to go
firsthand’ -- that was George,” she said.
Former Glendale Mayor Larry Zarian remembered Battey as a
meticulous person who was dedicated to doing his best for the city.
“He was the kind of person you could sit down around a table with
and reason,” Zarian said. “That commodity is very rare any more.”
Battey is survived by a sister, Ruth Ann Frazier; his wife, Betty;
their five children, George III, John, Barbara, James and Joseph; and
A public memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at First
United Methodist Church, 700 N. Glenoaks Blvd. In lieu of flowers,
family members request that donations be made to the Providence St.
Joseph Foundation, 501 S. Buena Vista Street, Burbank, CA 91505.