Information contributed by Peter Sanders, LAFD
Maggie Whelan, longtime Personnel GM and Club Member, passes away from cancer.
Margaret “Maggie” Whelan, former General Manager of the City’s Personnel Dept., Club Member, and a 47-year City employee, passed away on Thursday, June 6, after a brief, courageous battle with cancer. She was 69.
Whelan, first hired by Personnel in 1967 as an 18-year-old Clerk Typist, steadily rose through the ranks in various roles at Personnel and worked for 26 years in Rec and Parks before being appointed by then-Mayor Richard Riordan as the General Manager of Personnel in 2000. She served in that capacity under four different mayors until her retirement in June 2014.
As GM of Personnel, Whelan was responsible for the agency that oversees the recruitment and human resource functions of more than 44,000 employees across 37 City departments. She chaired the City’s Joint Labor Management Benefits Committee, and was appointed to the City’s Board of Deferred Compensation Administration, which manages the $3.5 billion Deferred Compensation Plan. Whelan was a member of the USC Master of Public Administration Advisory Board and the past president of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources, representing the entity in locations across the United States and in London, Beijing, Dubai, and Ottawa.
Born Margaret Mary Nolan on Aug. 27, 1949, in Topeka, Kan., she was the fourth of eight children to Joseph and Rita Nolan. Her father worked in accounting for the Santa Fe Railroad; her mother was a nurse and homemaker. She moved with her family to Alhambra in 1957, attended San Gabriel Mission High School and was hired by the City of LA upon her graduation. In 1973, while working for the City, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in history from Cal State University Los Angeles.
In 1978, while working for Rec and Parks she met Thomas Whelan, who also worked in the department. They married in Las Vegas the following year and their daughter Patricia was born in 1984, ending Maggie and Tom’s five-year run of bliss.
Whelan was an active member of her community in Alhambra, serving as a Commissioner on that City’s Board of Parks and Recreation and Civil Service Commission. She enjoyed her numerous book club associations and spending time with her family and friends on the Colorado River and at Bass Lake in Madera County. She is survived by Thomas, her husband of 40 years; her daughter Patricia; son-in-law Peter; step-grandson Jack; and five surviving siblings. Plans for a memorial service are pending.
“The sad news of Maggie’s passing prompted many City employees to honor her memory. The Club created a forum online for people to share their thoughts, and we publish the responses below. To all who contributed or shared their thoughts privately, we thank you.
“Maggie had been a Club Member for more than 32 years.
“During my 21 years at the Employees Club, the name Maggie Whelan came up often, and it was evident that she was loved by many within the City of Los Angeles and the community. She was a role model and a positive force supporting City employees and their growth in their careers.
“Maggie served the City, its residents and employees well for more than 47 years, including 14 years as General Manager of Personnel. Shortly after the news of her passing became public, I received countless calls and emails from employees who knew her. Their messages where filled with thoughts about her grace, compassion, integrity and humor, along with recollections of their personal interactions with her.
“I remember how much she enjoyed reading Alive! and seemingly knew each person in each paper published. Every time we visited, she would let me know how much she enjoyed making the newest recipes from Cooking with the Club, and always with her trademark smile. It was an honor to have known Maggie. I thank her for her service as well as her impact to the thousands of lives she helped.”
– Robert Larios, Club Chief Operating Officer
“I send my condolences to Maggie Whelan’s family. She was truly a very nice and friendly person who always smiled and said hello. She will be missed. Rest in Peace, Maggie.”
– Terri Tate, former colleague, Personnel
“Maggie was a dear friend, coworker and neighbor. “I will always treasure her advice in difficult times, and her smile and hugs whenever we ran into each other. Maggie will always be missed by all of us. She was a great friend of the Club. My condolences to her husband and daughter. Rest in Peace.”
– Rose Hyland, friend, Retired, Controller’s Office, Club Board Member
“Rest in Splendor, Maggie Whelan. You were my General Manager for most of my City career. Your influence, your humor, your teachings and you calling me ‘Char Char’ will never be forgotten. Forever in our memories.”
– Charlette Starkey, former colleague, Personnel
“Maggie was essential to turning my (then-new) career in to a 36 year career with the City of Los Angeles. She was one tough cookie, expecting excellence from all who worked for her and perfection from those who exceeded her rank, because she cared. I remember helping to plan a birthday party for little Patricia at one point, complete with a kitty cat, custom designed birthday cake and personalized party favors. I am shocked and saddened to hear of her passing. Love and prayers, Tom and Patricia.”
– Andrea Moore, former colleague, Rec and Parks
“Maggie and I became close friends in fifth grade, graduated together and joined the City together in 1967. Maggie was loved and respected by so many and will be greatly missed by her enormous community of family and friends. Maggie was truly one-of-a-kind.”
– June Ford (Sheeran), friend and former colleague, Personnel
“Maggie was an exceptional leader, manager, colleague and very dedicated to the City family. She was always the person that knew how to make things work and get things done. She will he missed.
“My deepest condolences to the family.”
– With Sympathy, Molly Campbell, former colleague, Harbor
“I first met Maggie when I was appointed as the Commission Secretary to the Civil Service Commission in 2000. As the Commission Secretary I worked closely with Maggie and got to know what a kind-hearted person she was. She always had a smile on her face and a hello for everyone. She was truly a one-of-a kind leader who will be truly missed.”
– Lupe Ortiz, former colleague, Personnel
“Maggie paved the road for women rising through the ranks and showed strong women they can do it. Many blessings and prayers to her family.”
– Elsa Rodarte, former colleague, LAFD
“I started in Personnel in November 2001, and until Maggie retired, she would always say, ‘Hello’ with her warm smile. She really cared for her employees. I will miss her.”
– Angelina Krytzer, former colleague, Personnel
Posted on the Club’s Facebook Page
“Awww no, I loved her. RIP Maggie.”
– Carmen Steward
– Larry Patrich
“A wonderful GM. It was a pleasure working with her. RIP.”
– Carolyn Alvarez
“A friend and mentor to so many of us.”
– Anna Burton
– Lynne Sanders-Wright
– Dina Ramirez
– Julia Crowder
“RIP Maggie. Condolences to her friends and loved ones.”
– Isabel Moreno
“RIP Maggie. You were a great manager.”
– Elizabeth Henriquez
“May she rest in peace. Praying for her family’s strength.”
– Marigold McFadzean
“Prayers and condolences to Maggie Whelan’s family and friends. RIP.”
– Luis Castillo
“Rest in Peace.”
– Leonor Nonis Rodriguez
“RIP Maggie. You will be missed by many.”
– Kyle’Eddie Millager
“You were like a ray of sunshine, Maggie. You will be missed.”
– Molly Wong