Richard Joseph Riordan was the first Catholic to serve as Mayor of Los Angeles in the modern era, serving as mayor from 1993 to 2001. He is largely credited for guiding the city in the aftermath of the 1992 L.A. Riots and the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
“Tough enough to turn L.A. around”
As a successful businessman and civic leader seeking public office for the first time, he had promised to revitalize the riot-torn city and put 3,000 more police on the streets.
After being elected mayor, he honored his promises, and is credited with rebuilding and strengthening Los Angeles, including significantly lowering crime, saving and rebuilding the iconic L.A. Central Public Library (which now bears his name).
Riordan, the only Republican to hold the nonpartisan position since 1961, when Norris Poulson lost a bid for a third term, was elected in 1993, succeeding Tom Bradley, who held the position for a record 20 years.
Riordan took office slightly more than a year after the destructive, massive rioting and fires that followed the verdict in the state trial of the Los Angeles Police Department officers accused in the beating of motorist Rodney King (who was quite high at the time of the incident). Riordan then had another challenge to face in his first year in office — the sudden, devastating 1994 Northridge earthquake. The short video clip below does the best job we’ve found of concisely and accurately capturing Riordan’s impact on Los Angeles, including his immediate and constant vigilance and response to the Northridge earthquake.
There’s no question in the minds of locals of all political stripes that Riordan ultimately left Los Angeles a better and safer place after serving as mayor for two terms (eight years).
He won praise even from political adversaries for decisive leadership following the devastating January 17, 1994, Northridge earthquake.
In a statement shared Thursday morning, Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez said his death “marks the end of an era here in the city and in the Church here in Los Angeles. Mayor Riordan was a devoted public servant, a generous philanthropist, a wise civic leader, and a fine Christian gentleman, who worked hard to make life better for those he served, especially for the poorest Angelenos,” said the archbishop.
Originally from New York City, Riordan studied at Jesuit-run Santa Clara University in the Bay Area before transferring to Princeton. He eventually moved to Los Angeles, where he built a career as a lawyer, businessman and investment banker.
He was known as an enthusiastic supporter of Catholic charitable causes, especially Catholic education. When then-Archbishop Roger Mahony established the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF) to provide tuition support for students in LA’s Catholic school students in 1987, Riordan was among the prominent business leaders chosen to serve as a founding trustee. He was also CEF’s first president.
He also co-founded The Riordan Programs at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management that has had a profound impact on the lives of many, many young students over the years, who have gone on to lead impactful lives of their own.
Riordan reportedly died just after 7:30 p.m. Wednesday while he was surrounded by family, friends, caregivers, and his beloved dogs.
He is survived by survived by his wife, Elizabeth Riordan; three children, Mary Elizabeth Riordan, Kathleen Ann Riordan and Patricia Riordan Torrey; three grandchildren, Luca, Jessica and Elizabeth; and a sister, Mary Elizabeth Riordan Hearty.
FUNERAL MASS DETAILS:
The Memorial Mass for former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan will be held as follows:
Friday, April 28, at 2:00 pm, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Archbishop José H. Gomez will preside, with homily delivered by Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson, pastor at St. Monica Catholic Church (Riordan’s parish).
The Mass will also be live-streamed at youtube.com/olacathedral.
Sources includes: Angelus News, LA Catholics, local stations and more