Amazing Video on the Life of Joe Cerrell via You Tube!
By Randy Economy
December 4, 2010
Los Angeles, CA
Memorial Service for Joseph R. Cerrell will be held on Monday, December 6, 2010 at 10:30 a.m. at the Christ The King Roman Catholic Church at 624 N. Rossmore Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90004. Msgr. Antonio Cacciapuoti will be the Celebrant.
A Memorial Website has been established in to celebrate his life.
"On behalf of our mother, Lee, and our entire extended family, we thank everyone for their kind words and fond memories of our beloved father, who passed away earlier today. While many of you know him as a pillar of the political community in Los Angeles, to us, he was simply the best dad ever. He was a wonderful mentor to us and to his many students and employees. He was a trusted advisor to his clients and political candidates. And he was a dear friend to so many. We are bolstered by his zest for life—for his love of politics, for his proud Italian heritage, and for his unyielding passion for the New York Yankees and the USC Trojans. These are the memories that sustain us now. We see his legacy in the eyes of Joe's beautiful grandchildren, Kim, Chris, Danny, Lauren, Sal, Josie and Chase, and we know his memory lives on in all those who value public service and the democratic system he loved so much."
Kindest personal regards,
Steve Bullock, Sharon Cerrell Levy, Joe Cerrell
Steve Bullock, Sharon Cerrell Levy, Joe Cerrell
Obituary: Joseph R. Cerrell
June 19, 1935 - December 3, 2010
Joseph R. Cerrell, the legendary Los Angeles political consultant and public relations practitioner, who advised local elected officials, corporate executives and presidential hopefuls alike, died early this morning near his beach home in Oxnard, Calif. following complications from pneumonia. He was 75.
During his storied career spanning more than five decades, Cerrell played key roles in the presidential campaigns of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Hubert H. Humphrey, Lloyd Bentsen, John Glenn and Al Gore. As the founder of Los Angeles-based Cerrell Associates Inc., he built a public affairs firm known for not only expert political campaign management, but also for its public relations and public affairs services to corporate and nonprofit clients.
Cerrell’s political career began in the 1950s at the University of Southern California (USC), where he started the Trojan Democratic Club on a campus known at the time for its Republican activism. His political savvy soon caught the eye of Jesse M. Unruh, leading to a position on his State Assembly campaign and later on the staff of Attorney General Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, running for his first term as California Governor in 1958.
After Brown won, Cerrell was approached again by Unruh, who had become Speaker of the California Assembly, to run the California Democratic Party. At just 24, Cerrell was the youngest person ever to do so. That experience led Cerrell to the Kennedy presidential campaign, where he became California campaign manager, directing all operations in the Golden State. Interviews with Cerrell are part of the Oral History Project at the Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston.
It was on the Brown campaign where Cerrell met the striking blonde campaign worker Lee Bullock, who would become his wife in 1963. At the time, the Cerrells postponed their ceremony by a week at the request Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, so they could oversee a Los Angeles event for President Kennedy.
Joe and Lee Cerrell celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary on Nov. 17.
“Joe Cerrell helped to create modern political consulting,” said Professor Ann N. Crigler, chair of the Department of Political Science at USC. “He was an early full-service political consultant who successfully navigated the transition to today’s more specialized consulting practices. He shared his expertise and enthusiasm with hundreds of students over the years and inspired them to get involved in politics at many levels. This gift was institutionalized with his instrumental role in bringing the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics to USC.”
Great segment from NBC 4 News a few years back. Ted Chen reporting...
Via You Tube. GREAT MEMORIES!
In 1966, Cerrell formed Golden State Consulting with colleagues Don Simonian and Chuck Winner. While their venture was short-lived, the trio would go on to achieve individual successes in political consulting. In 1967, Joe and Lee founded Cerrell Associates. Early clients included Pacific Southwest Airlines and Pacific Telephone, as well as countless political candidates.
Together with political consultant Ben Palumbo, Cerrell opened Palumbo & Cerrell in Washington, DC in 1983 giving him an East Coast branch and the ability to serve clients in the nation’s capital.
Over the years, Cerrell and his firm advised high-profile dignitaries on their visits to Southern California, including the 2000 visit of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, and two local tours for Armenian Pontiffs—the 1987 visit of His Holiness Catholicos Vazken I and the 1996 visit of His Holiness Catholicos Karekin I—the latter earning Cerrell Associates a PRism Award for Best Special Event from the Public Relations Society of America-Los Angeles (PRSA-LA)
In recent years, Cerrell was perhaps best known as “the judge maker” for his successful record in running campaigns for hundreds of California judges. In reporting this success rate, the Los Angeles legal newspaper the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, which awarded Cerrell its “Person of the Year Award” in 2007, wrote that same year: “Cerrell’s reputation among, and rapport with, the bench officers was such that several municipal court judges who hired him to help them move up to the Superior Court found themselves unopposed.”
Born Joseph Cerrella in Queens on June 19, 1935—the son of Sal, a New York City fireman, and Marion, a campaign worker who would later work for Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh in Sacramento—Cerrell reveled in his New York roots. He often insisted that Frank Sinatra’s hit “New York, New York” be played at family and company events. He passionately followed his beloved Yankees and was in the stands at both Dodger and Yankee stadiums during the 1977 and 1978 World Series.
In 1941, Cerrell’s parents dropped the “a” off Cerrella so their son could escape anti-Italian discrimination during World War II. Later in life, he started to actively research his family’s ancestry and in 1987 made what family members called a life-changing journey to Calabria, Italy to find and meet long-lost relatives. In his lifetime, he made more than two dozen trips to Italy, often combining work with pleasure. He became extremely proud of his Italian-American heritage, energetically promoting the contributions of Italian-Americans in Los Angeles and around the world. He served as vice-chair and president of the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF); vice-chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations, and was appointed to the California Italian-American Task Force by Gov. Pete Wilson.
Cerrell was a proud alumnus of both Los Angeles High School and USC, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1957. He would return to his alma mater in 1979 to become one of USC’s most popular adjunct professors, teaching for 15 years in conjunction with the university’s prestigious Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, which he co-founded with longtime friend and fellow Unruh aide, Larry L Berg.
More recently, he was a Distinguished Visiting Professor in Political Science at Pepperdine University in Malibu from 1996 to 2004. Over the decades, many of Cerrell’s students interned at Cerrell Associates, with several coming to work for him full-time—a track record that was a source of pride.
In addition to teaching, Cerrell worked with political science professors from local universities to establish the Annual Sacramento Seminar, which has since brought thousands of college students to the state capital. He was also a passionate fan of USC football and for decades rarely missed a home game.
Despite his New York upbringing, Cerrell loved Los Angeles, where he married, raised his family, ran his successful business, and built an unparalleled reputation for giving back to the community. A resident of Hancock Park for more than 50 years, Cerrell was proud to relocate his firm to nearby Larchmont Boulevard in 1980. That same year, PRSA-LA presented him with the Joe Roos Distinguished Award for Community Service, recognizing his contributions to the city. A former president of the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission, Cerrell later helped organize the rededication of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum after renovations to repair damage from the Northridge earthquake. The effort earned Cerrell a 1995 PRo Award from the Publicity Club of Los Angeles.
Those closest to Cerrell knew that despite his deep love for American politics, Italian food, the Yankees and USC, his greatest joy was spending time with his family. He is survived by his wife Lee, of Oxnard, Calif. and Los Angeles; his son Steve Bullock, CFO of Cerrell Associates, and daughter-in-law Irina Bullock of Burbank, Calif.; his daughter Sharon Cerrell Levy and son-in-law Matthew Levy, of Sherman Oaks, Calif.; his son Joe Cerrell, Director of the European Office for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and daughter-in-law Sara Grote Cerrell, of London and Seattle; and his former daughter-in-law Tara Bullock, of Van Nuys, Calif.; along with his seven beloved grandchildren: Kimberly and Christopher Bullock, Danny and Lauren Levy; and Sal, Chase and Josie Cerrell. Additional survivors include cousins Jackie Young, Bonnie Jollett, Nancy Posner, Jeannie Posner, Michael Baer and Kathy Porsella