Former mayor Al F. Dossin lived his life the way he wanted to live it.
He never said much, even while he served on the City Council. But he was devoted to his wife, Lorraine and family.
About 20 people came to his graveside service last Wednesday at Forest Lawn. His niece and her husband, Lois and Bruce Serpa, were in attendance and the rest were friends including former mayor Mary Lou Howard and Don Brown, airport authority commissioner, who led the service.
A former police officer, Don met Al back in 1964 when Don pulled him over for running a stop sign. Years later, Al became a father figure and gave him advice.
Al's niece Lois Serpa also went to Al for advice.
"If I ever had any problems, I would call him and he listened to the mess I'd gotten into and say 'OK. It is what it is and now we are going to work forward and move out of it.'" she said.
Councilman Gary Bric met Al when Bric took out an insurance policy back in the 1970s.
"Al was a good man, loved the city and tried to do what was right for the quality of life for the people here," he said.
After his wife passed away in 2009, Al became a regular at Gary Bric's Ramp. He claimed Table 16 as his own and he'd be there on Wednesdays for the meatloaf. Other days, he'd order a hamburger and French fries, eat the French fries, then half the burger and take the other half home to his dog.
Back in 1985, when Al was voted in with Michael Hastings and Mary Kelsey, it broke up the old guard on the City Council. With strong support by Howard, the newcomers unseated incumbents Larry Stamper and Daniel Remy. Making up the new council was Dossin, Hastings, Kelsey, Howard and Bob Bowne.
The new council then fired City Atty. Bill Rudell and City Manager Andy Lazzaretto. Bud Ovrom was brought in as City Manager, and Howard credits him for bringing positive changes to Burbank.
"Bud did a wonderful job," Howard said. "He put people in positions who knew what they were doing. He promised the council that his council would be the best informed council when it came to issues regarding the city of Burbank. And it was good times in Burbank."
As mayor, Dossin ran tough meetings, Howard said. He didn't stand for people in the audience interrupting, and would think nothing at all at asking Mike Nolan to leave.
"And everyone respected that and followed the rules," she said.
Michael Hastings remembers that while he and Al were serving on the council, Al would somewhat father him on council issues.
"He would say to me 'You might want to think about that. You might want to think about this.' He was always, I don't want to use the word controlling, but he was always right. And that was fine with me because I was new and definitely very, very young in the job."
By August of 1986, Al was more often voting against the council majority and labeled himself the "maverick" on the council, according to a Los Angeles Times article. When a Leader article quoted him as saying he was unhappy with political life and that there was "no way in the world" he would run for public office again, he said he had been misquoted and stopped talking to the paper.
Phil Drake, who covered the City Council for the Leader soon after, was told not to expect Al to give him a comment for stories, but eventually he did, Drake said.
"I can't say he and I ever got along, but he always treated me with professionalism — even when he would tell me that he would never comment to the Leader," he said.
And Al was ahead of his time in regard to transparency in government. Former Leader photographer Bonnie Burrow remembered that he started breakfast meetings at the Holiday Inn where he would talk to the public and reporters.
Lee Paysinger met Al in 1952 when she was a waitress at Bob's Big Boy. He called her Fizzle because he said she was a flop as a waitress, she said.
"I'd tell him 'Then why have I been at it for 38 years?'"
After Al's dog died, Lee bought him a stuffed one. He would pet it when he was on the couch and took it to the convalescent home where it sat on his pillow. The dog was placed in Al's coffin and will sleep next to him for eternity along with a photo of Lorraine.
JOYCE RUDOLPH can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.