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KENNETH HAHN, LONGTIME POWER IN L.A., DIES AT 77.

Byline: Eric Wahlgren Daily News Staff Writer

Kenneth Hahn, a formidable figure in local politics who helped lure the Dodgers baseball team away from Brooklyn and promoted the development of Los Angeles into a world-class city, died Sunday.

Hahn, who served as a Los Angeles County supervisor for 40 years, was 77.

He died of heart failure at 6:30 a.m. at Inglewood's Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital, said Hahn family spokesman Ted Goldstein. An enormously popular politician who served a record 10 terms as supervisor, Hahn had been in ill health since suffering a series of strokes.

``A giant voice in the community was stilled this morning,'' said Goldstein, an aide to City Attorney Jim Hahn, Kenneth Hahn's son. ``He was always working for the benefit of his district, and that is why they returned him to office time and time again.''

Hahn left a lasting imprint on Los Angeles after having championed expansion of the paramedics system, call boxes on freeways and new public facilities, including the Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center.

As a testament to his enduring legacy, several buildings and parks bear his name, including the county Hall of Administration and a regional park in Baldwin Hills.

Mayor Richard Riordan will ask that flags at city offices be flown at half-staff in Hahn's memory, Riordan spokeswoman Noelia Rodriguez said.

``Mr. Hahn was a tremendous public servant for many decades in the city and the county,'' Rodriguez said.

Hahn began his political career in 1947, becoming at 26 the youngest person ever elected to the Los Angeles City Council. He earned the same distinction on the county Board of Supervisors when he was elected to that panel in 1952 at the age of 32.

A liberal, white politician who represented an increasingly minority constituency in the 2nd Supervisorial District, including South Central Los Angeles, Hahn mastered the art of working his district by attending groundbreakings and getting potholes fixed.

``He was, I think, very close to the people in his district,'' said Warren Dorn, a former county supervisor who served with Hahn. ``He was out there all the time, getting things done.''

One of the running jokes about Hahn was that the native Angeleno always carried a shovel and a red ribbon in the trunk of his car to be ready for any groundbreaking, Goldstein said.

``He worked hard for fixing potholes, making sure that the street lamps were lit and that the crosswalks were painted for the schoolchildren,'' Goldstein said. ``He had great heart.''

Dorn said Hahn was one of the driving forces behind the deal in 1958 that brought the Dodgers to Los Angeles from Brooklyn.

``This team came to the West Coast largely because of him,'' Dorn said.

Said Goldstein: ``He recognized the advantage of having a world-class baseball team. He had great vision.''

Born in Los Angeles in 1920, Hahn was a professor of history and government at Pepperdine University before he ran for office, Goldstein and colleagues said.

Over the course of his career, Hahn designed the county seal, banned wood shingles from homes unless they were treated with fire retardant and at one time argued for the statehood of Los Angeles County.

He was proud of his many legislative accomplishments, including authoring Proposition A - a half-cent sales tax for rail transit and bus fare subsidies - and of his political statements, Goldstein said.

Hahn was the only politician to greet Martin Luther King Jr. when the civil rights leader arrived in Los Angeles in 1961.

Hahn, a very religious man who often quoted Scriptures, was also skilled at modern politics and frequently sought headlines and offered photo opportunities.

``He impressed a lot of people,'' said Ernani Bernardi, a Los Angeles City Council member from 1961 to 1993. ``He left an incredible record.''

Hahn retired in 1992, about five years after he suffered a stroke that kept him in a wheelchair during his last terms.

Goldstein said Hahn was in Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital frequently to seek treatment for a variety of ailments in his retirement. Hahn campaigned actively, however, for his son's re-election and for his daughter, Janice Hahn, to win her seat on the city's elected charter reform commission.

In addition to his two children and five grandchildren, Hahn is survived by his wife of 50 years, Ramona.

A public funeral service is set for 10 a.m. Friday at the Faith Dome of Crenshaw Christian Church, 7901 S. Vermont Ave., said Vicki Pipkin, a former Hahn press secretary.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Obituary
Date:Oct 13, 1997
Words:753
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