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Another View: A tribute to five noble men of Roseville

By: Julia Burrows, special to the Press Tribune
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I love Roseville: our storied history, our beautiful landscape and our well-planned community. And I love the people of Roseville, especially those whose time and love have made Roseville the city it is today.

Roseville has benefited from generations of servant leaders. To me, this means citizens who worked hard, made decisions mindful of future generations, gave selflessly of their time and loved their families. As a 25-year Roseville resident, I have had the privilege of working with, and for, many of these leaders. In the past four months, five of them have gone to eternal rest after a life well lived. They all had a tremendous influence on my family and me and will never be forgotten.

Paul Lunardi was the youngest mayor in our city’s history when elected to the Roseville City Council. His legacy lives on with our low power and water rates, the absence of parking meters downtown, a council-manager form of government and a reputation built on his work as a state assemblyman and senator. He served his constituents with one secretary and a trusty automobile that drove thousands of miles around a very large district.

Paul was a walking encyclopedia who could remember every detail about legislation he drafted 50 years ago, including the Williamson Act, the price of transformers downtown and his private meeting by chance with John F. Kennedy in an anteroom of the state Capitol. His contributions are so vast that California state archives has a 300-page bound volume of interviews recorded just to capture the work of a man who understood how to get things done and compromise for the benefit of all.

There is no doubt Paul Lunardi could have been governor of California had he not left the senate to take care of family matters. Senator Ted Gaines honored Paul on the floor of the Senate in 2011, and my daughter’s fourth-grade class was there to witness history. I will miss the history lesson I received every time I had the privilege of visiting with Paul.

Bob Van Overbeek was a generous Roseville businessman and a loving husband.

Bob’s Car Wash is a Roseville institution and a famous local small business, thanks to the ad campaign starring Bob and Elaine. When the Rotary Club was meeting, Bob was there, and if there were margaritas being served at a Chamber event, Bob was serving them. He always asked about my children, and shared the success of his grandchildren. When you were with Bob, you could tell he lived a happy life – he valued community, family and service.

Jack Wallace challenged many Roseville city planners to think critically and be prepared. As a former Roseville city planner, I know we would write staff reports anticipating questions we know we’d get from Jack.

While he was formally a teacher for two decades at local high schools, Jack was also contributing to the debate at City Hall and, in doing so, teaching city staff to find the best options for smarter growth. His countless hours spent serving on commissions and committees and at neighborhood association meetings were a gift of time that can never be repaid.

In another life, Jack could have been a brilliant Parliamentarian in England. I am thankful he was a citizen of Roseville and asked us the hard questions.

Bob Cooley was the nicest man in Roseville. From my window at City Hall, I could see him walking his dog around Royer Park during the hours when he wasn’t visiting with students at his namesake Cooley Middle School. During Music in the Park, and especially at every July 4 picnic in Royer Park, the Cooley house was home base for extra supplies and a real bathroom. The love Bob had for his students was only surpassed by the love he had for his beautiful wife, Penny. (There was not a better match made in heaven.) Bob’s influence lives on in the scientists he trained and the love he had for friends and family.

Roseville Planning Commissioner Don Brewer was a true gentleman in the old-school tradition. His recent passing saddened his family and city friends.

Don led by example, was always the best-dressed man in any room and made people smile with a joke or a kind, personal remark. People would be surprised to learn that due to his extensive history in retail Don was my “fashion consult” at city events. He knew exactly which department at Macy’s supplied my outfit and whether it was the right color for the government access channel cameras.

Don was witty, personable and a favorite of the staff. Having a planning commissioner like Don made everyone want to do a good job to serve him well.

Roseville is the city it is today because of great leaders like these five men. It is a privilege to have learned from them and benefit from their contributions. They will be missed, and continue to serve as models for public servants leading Roseville into the future.