Patriotism, Family and City Service

by John Hawkins, President and CEO, The Club

Bill Lillenberg, 91, Retired, City Planning, and US Navy Veteran, served at Midway Island just after the war, then joined the NSA at the beginning of the intelligence era. See his story, page 10.

When we asked Bill Lillenberg, City Retiree and Navy Veteran, what freedom meant to him, he said it meant that he could raise his family in the manner he wished. READ HIS STORY

That manner was service – to the City, and to the country.

Bill had a fascinating military career. He served from just after World War II at NAS Midway to the beginning of the intelligence era at the National Security Administration (NSA). That’s what the team at Alive! was ready to talk to him about when we first made contact. (Read all about it in this month’s feature story; our July cover stories most years are centered on Independence Day.)

We were in for a surprise. He and his late wife, Mary Alice, taught their kids to work hard and serve well. We didn’t realize just how dedicated they were to service: three children (Mark, Kevin and Amy Lillenberg) are Retired from the City, too (LAFD and LAPD), and one grandson, Josh Lillenberg, is currently a Captain in the LAFD. (Another grandson, Christopher Lillenberg, is a dentist in the U.S. Air Force.)

As far as I know, that’s the most City-focused family we’ve encountered since we restarted the paper more than 200 issues ago in 2002. Good to meet you, Lillenbergs!

There’s another family connection – this time, mine. You’ll see my daughter, Hannah Hawkins, in a couple of the photos from the day we interviewed Bill. She’s studying World War II in school, and she wanted to come along. Great idea, Hannah!

Thank you, Bill and family, for your service to the United States and to the City. We are grateful.

Moving on … as I type this the City is starting to reopen from the coronavirus pandemic, slowly and managed. (The challenges remain.) In some ways we’re looking to do the same here at the Club, and look for more timely updates on the Club’s Website and social media channels. The main goal, of course, is keeping staff and Club Members safe.

Don’t forget to invite our Counselors to your next digital meeting! City employees, like everyone else in the world, are managing business by teleconferencing on Zoom, Webex, GoToMeeting, Facetime, Microsoft Teams, and just about any other platform. So are we! Counselor Dalila Vielma participates in digital meetings with City departments nearly every day, and is happy to join yours. Contact Noelle Kauffman at to get started.

A final note on family: I love seeing all the sons and daughters of Club Members graduating. Keep those photos coming! (Submit at

Have a fantastic and meaningful Fourth of July with your family.

— John