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. She was 95. 

U.S. Sen. 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.

“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.

Warschaw, the daughter of immigrants, 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 who was nicknamed “The Dragon Lady” by opponents.

Her daughter Hope noted the aptness of a political partisan dying on Election Day and that her mother had made sure to send in her absentee ballot a week before.

Two of Carmen Warschaw’s top philanthropies reflected her and her late 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. 

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. In 1976, the Los Angeles Times named her Woman of the Year.

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

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


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