A city mourns
Former Pasadena Councilman Sid Tyler was best known for public service, dedication and the ability to take on tough fiscal issues
By André Coleman 04/02/2014
Tyler died at Huntington Hospital following a bicycle ride on Thursday during which he collapsed on California Boulevard near Marengo Avenue, not far from his family home on South Madison Avenue.
According to Pasadena police spokeswoman Lt. Tracey Ibarra, Tyler was riding on the busy street and fell causing him to collide with a vehicle that was waiting at the intersection. The cause of death has not been disclosed.
"I'm devastated," said District 7 Councilman Terry Tornek, who replaced Tyler on the council after Tyler decided not to run for fourth term in 2009.
"I talked to Betsey [Tyler's wife of 55 years] yesterday. I am just sick about it. He is irreplaceable. ... He was a model citizen motivated by doing the right thing and contributing to his community with no self-serving bones in his body. We need more Sid Tylers."
Along with his wife, who has served as a state ombudsman for nursing home care and as head of the women's committee for the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, Tyler is also survived by his children Toby, David, Richard and Becky, as well as eight grandchildren.
"As a councilman, Sid was always a good listener and a provider of astute advice," said Ross Selvidge, a member of the Pasadena City College Board of Trustees. "He was particularly helpful to me when I worked on preserving the funding for Pasadena's libraries and was developing options for the financing of the City Hall renovation and earthquake retrofit."
Flags at City Hall were lowered to half-mast on Monday. Memorial services for Tyler will be held at 2 p.m. on April 12 at All Saints Church, 132 N. Euclid Ave., Pasadena.
The City Council and the state Assembly were scheduled to be adjourned in Tyler's memory on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, according to Pasadena Vice Mayor Jacque Robinson and Wendy Gordon, field representative to Assemblyman Chris Holden. Holden served on the council with Tyler for several years.
"Mr. Tyler was a friend to everyone on the City Council," Robinson told the Weekly. "Even when he disagreed it was in a respectful manner. He contributed a lot to the city both on and off the council. He will be missed."
In a prepared statement, Mayor Bill Bogaard complimented Tyler for his judgment on complex matters.
"This community will not be the same without Sid Tyler, who was uniquely able to offer effective help and impeccable judgment on the many issues Pasadena has faced over the years," Bogaard said in a prepared statement. "When the problem on the table was too complicated for the rest of us, it was Sid Tyler to whom we turned for a thoughtful and workable solution."
Born in Philadelphia on July 19, 1932, Tyler earned a bachelor's degree in American Government from Harvard in 1954 and served three years in the Marine Corps, stationed in Korea and Japan. Upon his discharge in 1957, Tyler began working in pharmaceutical marketing research at SK&F Labs.
Tyler moved his family from Philadelphia to Pasadena in 1969, taking a job with Tenet Healthcare in 1970, where he stayed until retiring in 1994 as executive vice president.
Tyler joined the City Council in 1997, replacing longtime Councilman and former Mayor Bill Thomson, and promised that he would immediately deal with the effects of power industry deregulation on hundreds of millions of dollars of debt held by the city-owned utility.
On Monday, Holden called Tyler a kind man and a good friend with a gentle spirit.
"Serving on the Pasadena City Council with him was a pleasure," Holden said. "He helped in so many ways with his ability to understand financial structures and offer answers to the tough questions during tough fiscal times. Sid cared about serving all the people of Pasadena with thoughtful and generous leadership."
Tyler chaired the city's Deregulation Committee in 2001. In a 2001 story that appeared in the Weekly, Tyler told PW reporter Erica Zeitlin that he was concerned about finding alternative energy sources for the city and planned to visit Santa Monica, which at the time was taking the lead in green energy projects.
"He was a very competent individual and one I was pleased to have as my successor," said Thomson, who is also a member of the PCC Board of Trustees. "I first met him when he was president of the Pasadena Southwest Little League. We became longtime friends over the years. I would describe him as an outstanding human being and a man of integrity. He was dedicated to his family and enjoyed the outdoors. He had an excellent grasp of financial issues. That is how he will be remembered. He would ask the good questions and make sure he had the information he needed before he would be required to vote on something. His ‘yes' was ‘yes' and his ‘no' was ‘no' and in politics that is not all that typical."
After being nominated by the Pasadena Arts Council for a Gold Award in 2011, Tyler said his highest achievement on the City Council was helping to pass a tree protection ordinance approved in 2004 which protected oak trees and other species growing on private and public property.
In 2008, Tyler told the Weekly that he would not be seeking another term, because other things beckoned, including his grandchildren. He recruited Tornek as his successor, but waited to endorse him until he witnessed Tornek's first debate performance at Pasadena City College.
"That's the level of integrity and care he had," Tornek said. "It's the way he conducted himself.
Even prior to joining the council, Tyler had already established a strong record of community service as a vestryman at All Saints Church, a trustee, and as developmental committee co-chair of the Descanso Gardens. He was also a trustee and board chair at the Chandler School.
In 2008, he chaired a committee overseeing a management audit of the Pasadena Unified School District. That year, Tyler told the Weekly that he considered himself a horrible golfer, an average tennis player and an accomplished skier.
"We will forever remember Sid for his dedication to trees - to Pasadena's urban forest - and for his valor in supporting that great community resource," Bogaard said. "In many ways, as a council member and an active member of the community, Sid shaped Pasadena as it exists today and we all owe him a debt of gratitude. He was an inspiration to me and all the council members, as well as many others, and he always will be.
"On behalf of a grateful and admiring community, I extend condolences and concern to Betsey and all of the Tyler family. We acknowledge and share your profound loss," Bogaard said.