Charles Bookhammer dies at 61; longtime Hawthorne councilman
He was also a longtime aide to then-Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke.
Charles Bookhammer became "a stabilizing voice at a time when [Hawthorne] really needed it." (Alan Hagman / Los Angeles Times)
His daughter, Brandi, said he died of complications from surgery for an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Bookhammer, who ran a family-owned insurance agency in Hawthorne for many years, sat on the Hawthorne City Council for 14 years in two different stints, until 1999.
He also served on Burke's staff for 16 years, beginning as a deputy in 1992 and eventually rising to assistant chief of staff.
Born in Atlanta on May 23, 1948, Bookhammer served in the Navy from 1965 to 1969. After completing his duty, which included three tours in Vietnam, he attended El Camino Community College, graduating in 1977.
He joined the Hawthorne City Council in 1983 after winning a special election to fill the unexpired term of a recalled member and became "a stabilizing voice at a time when the community really needed it," said Tom Quintana, a former public information officer for the city.
Hawthorne City Council member Ginny Lambert said Bookhammer's accomplishments included helping to bring the Moving Wall, a traveling, half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, to Hawthorne, where it was displayed for several days in 1985.
In 1993, Bookhammer ran for mayor but lost to businessman Larry Guidi, who has served several terms as Hawthorne mayor. In 1988, Bookhammer, a Republican, ran a well-financed campaign for the 53rd Assembly District seat but was defeated by incumbent Assemblyman Richard E. Floyd.
After leaving Burke's staff in 2008, he worked for the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission and was a part-time government consultant to the Los Angeles Board of Realtors.
In addition to his daughter Brandi, Bookhammer is survived by his wife, Barbara; daughters Jen Pliska, Michelle Curtis and Tracy Bookhammer-Rose; a brother, Robert; a sister, Carol Christian; and seven grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 11:30 a.m. today at Bell Tower Regional Community Center, 22232 El Paseo, Rancho Santa Margarita.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Disabled American Veterans, P.O. Box 14301, Cincinnati, OH 45250.