Larry Zarian — a former mayor and the first Armenian American to be elected to the Glendale City Council — died of blood cancer Thursday at Glendale Adventist Medical Center.
His family said in a statement that Zarian — who also had his own local cable show, “The Larry Zarian Forum” — was surrounded by relatives and friends as his favorite Frank Sinatra songs played at the time of his death, which was caused by aggressive multiple myeloma, a disease he kept secret from many.
“He cherished the gift of each day; he loved deeply and was loved deeply in return,” his family said in the statement. “He truly made a difference.”
In 1983, Zarian became the first Armenian American elected to the Glendale City Council, where he served for 16 years. He served four terms as mayor, earning the nickname, “The People’s Mayor.”
The 73-year-old also served as a board member for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and as a state transportation commissioner.
“Larry said he would never retire, as he had a firm belief that no one ever reaches the top of his potential,” his family said. “Larry was constantly seeking out what more he could do to help the city and the greater community be better.”
His public service was recognized by presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, and governors George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, according to the city.
“He was just dynamic in every facet of his life,” said Councilman Ara Najarian. “He was always happy, always energetic and always fun to be around.”
Zarian also served on Glendale Adventist Medical Center’s governing body. The hospital plans to fly the flag at half mast Friday morning in his honor.
“His love for his community was evident,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich said in a statement, adding that the two had been friends for more than 50 years.
Glendale Councilman Dave Weaver said Zarian dedicated his life to making the city better.
“This guy did so much for Glendale, just so, so much,” Weaver said. “This community is really going to miss him. It’ll be so strange to go to events and not see Larry there.”
Zarian is survived by three sons, Vincent, Gregory and Lawrence; a daughter-in-law, Maria; and two grandsons, Alexander and Christian.
A public celebration of his life has been scheduled for Nov. 21, with details to be announced at a later date.
Zarian asked that donations in his honor be made to the Armenian Society of Los Angeles, Glendale Adventist Medical Center, the Glendale Kiwanis and the Self-Aid Workshop.