Carmen Warschaw, Calif. Democratic leader and philanthropist, dies

LOS ANGELES (JTA) – Carmen Warschaw, a national and California state Democratic leader and philanthropist, has died.


 Warschaw died on Election Day, Nov. 6, in Los Angeles of natural causes at the age of 95. 

A daughter of immigrants, she was born in Arcadia, Calif. and was a lifelong resident of the Los Angeles area.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) paid tribute to her longtime friend as “a force in the Democratic Party, both in California and on the national stage” where she was a member of the Democratic National Committee.

Warschaw also was the first female chair of the California Fair Employment Practices Commission.

Bill Boyarsky, veteran political writer for the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times, described Warschaw as “one of the most interesting and challenging people I ever met on my beat.” She was also a fearsome political fighter, nicknamed “The Dragon Lady” by opponents.

“Carmen was a historical figure in the California Democratic Party and a passionate supporter of Jewish causes, equally generous financially and with advice and, when needed, criticism,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, a lifelong friend. 

There was certain fitness to the ardent political partisan dying on Election Day, but she made sure to send in her absentee ballot a week before, noted her daughter Hope Warschaw.

Two of Carmen Warschaw’s top philanthropies reflected her and her husband’s humanitarian and political priorities.Cedars-Sinai is the home of the Louis Warschaw Prostrate Cancer Center, while the University of Southern California Chair in Practical Politics bears the name of the couple, both USC alumni. 

“Carmen believed that most academic studies of politics dealt with the theoretical side, but what was needed was an understanding of how day-by-day politics really work,” Yaroslavsky said.

The Warschaws also helped to establish the USC Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life.

Carmen Warschaw held lay leadership positions in numerous organizations, among them the Jewish Federation Council, L.A. Music Center, Otis Art Institute and the Truman Library Institute. In 1976, the Los Angeles Times named her Woman of the Year.

Her husband of 63 years, Louis Warschaw, was a prominent business leader in banking, insurance and real estate. He died in 2000. `

On Nov. 7, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors adjourned its session in memory of Carmen Warschaw.

She is survived by her two daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

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