DEL MAR — In honor of a former member, City Council adopted a proclamation and declared Jan. 21, 2014, Remembering Lou Terrell Day in Del Mar.
Terrell, who served as mayor in 1981, died on Jan. 3 while saving his dog from an oncoming train.
“Lou Terrell was an active member of the Del Mar community for over 40 years,” Mayor Lee Haydu said as she read the proclamation at the Jan. 21 meeting.
He served on City Council from 1980 to 1984, helped develop the community plan “and contributed significantly to our city” as founder and early president of the Del Mar Foundation, she said. He also started the summer concerts in the park.
Terrell served the region as a city representative on the San Diego Association of Governments and was a board member for the Foundation for Change, Planned Parenthood in San Diego and Riverside counties and the American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego and Imperial counties.
He was also “a world-class body surfer, catching thousands of waves on the Del Mar beach, and a dog lover,” Haydu added.
“Lou was a natural leader who set an example for all of us on how to make Del Mar a better place,” she said. “His tremendous positive impact in this community will be significantly missed by all our residents.”
“I stand here sadly and with a very heavy heart,” his widow Carol Isackson said. “But I feel that Lou would have wanted someone from the family to make, if you will, a last appearance here.
“I want to thank you for honoring Lou’s memory in such a meaningful way,” she added. “I think that it will help us to put closure on Lou’s Del Mar life by talking a little bit about him.”
Isackson said she first became aware of Terrell by watching him on televised City Council meetings.
She shared two of her clearest memories from that time.
“The first is of him always in a plaid shirt and attempting to be the voice of reason in a very fractious, hostile, divided – and I won’t use any more adjectives; I think you got the picture — City Council,” she said.
“Second, I remember him as a picture of quiet frustration. The first thing that he would do when his efforts as the voice of reason failed was (put his) head in hand,” she explained. “This was often followed by head up, eyes rolling up to the ceiling.
“Lou really loved Del Mar,” Isackson continued. “He loved it as a place. He loved it for its beauty, for the ocean, for the surfing, for the waves and its glorious weather.
“When we would come back from vacations, his mantra, his comment always was, ‘We live in paradise. It’s good to go away but it’s good to be home.’
“Lou loved Del Mar also as a community,” she said. “He was engaged with this community, with the politics, with the people … from the time he moved here in 1969 until just a few weeks ago.
“He loved Del Mar as it was in the ’70s and he often reminisced about it,” she said. “But he had visions for … a Del Mar of the future. He hoped to see a Del Mar, I think, that would retain the charm that he loved so much … but that could actively and really positively move forward into the future.
“At this point it occurs to me that this is a golden opportunity for me to make a last plug for Lou … for the City Hall that he really wished to see with a community gathering space,” Isackson said.
“Lou never viewed a personal difference of opinion as a personal attack,” she added. “He believed, I think, that reasonable minds could, and actually should, differ.
“Decision making in his mind as a political scientist, as a social scientist, was a process. And at the end of the process, points of view would be shared and consensus really would result in a productive compromise.
“He loved the arguing, the discussion, the talk, the engagement that I think really typifies the people of this community,” Isackson said. “He really would have appreciated, as have all of us in the family, the way that the community … reached out to us over these last really terrible, very difficult weeks.
“The outpouring of support and kindness and consideration by members of the community … continues to be appreciated,” she added. “Knowing how much people in this town and in the community at large loved and respected and really appreciated Lou has warmed our hearts. It’s really been comforting to all of us.”
Deanna Spehn, a representative for Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, presented Isackson with a memorial resolution.
She said Atkins adjourned the Assembly on Jan. 9 in Terrell’s memory by sharing his “contributions to quality of life in the region.”
“Lou Terrell was truly a renaissance man,” Spehn said, noting that he served Del Mar, the region and all the students whose lives he touched as a political science professor and department chairman at San Diego State University.
“He left a long legacy that really helped make Del Mar what it is today,” Spehn said.