VETERANS PARK CONSERVANCY
For 29 years, the Veterans Park Conservancy (VPC) has worked with the local and Federal Department of Veterans Affairs to honor our military veterans by successfully preserving, protecting and enhancing the WLA VA property.
VPC is guided by the goal of paying tribute to our veterans—past, present and future.
Since 2010 our mission has been focused on restoration projects that encompass promoting veterans' healing by creating environments to restore body, mind and spirit; honoring the park’s historical heritage; and are establishing a new iconic landmark—a lasting legacy—for all veterans and the City of Los Angeles.
A California nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, VPC’s activities are supported entirely by private contributions from generous donors; it does not rely on any funding from the U.S. Government.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Click on name to see bio.
Richard Anderson, U.S. Army Veteran
Mr. Anderson is best known for his starring roles in the Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman and as Executive Producer of TV features for Universal Studios, CBS and NBC. This honored actor has been seen in virtually every medium, from theater and radio to films and television.
He describes his connection with veterans as follows:
“I served in the Army in World War II, from December l944 to March l946. I was stationed at Camp Roberts, California and after three months of Basic Training I was assigned to the ‘Camp Roberts Dispatch’ newspaper as a reporter-columnist on war, international, political and domestic news.
“It was a responsible and exciting occupation especially when reporting historic happenings of the time...from the Battle of the Bulge to the eventual European victory and Japanese surrender.
“I remember to this day where I was, and the exact time and place of those two transformational events and the thrill of typing them out.
“The military experience made me grateful to serve our nation.”
Michele Coyle, JD – LL.M, Secretary
Ms. Coyle serves as the General Counsel to the Chancellor of the University of California at Riverside. She is a member of the Litigation, Labor and Environmental practice groups and was previously a partner in the Los Angeles Office of Hogan & Hartson, LLP.
Discussing here interest in supporting the Veterans Park Conservancy, Michele say: “Both my grandfathers and my father were veterans. One of my grandfathers returned from WWI permanently injured as a result of exposure to toxic gas. He sought refuge in his garden. He celebrated life with his grandchildren by working the soil with us and sharing the fruits of our labor with those in need.
“I serve on the Board of the Veterans Park Conservancy in tribute to my grandfather and all those veterans like him who seek peace and tranquility in the gardens and park-like setting of the Los Angeles National Veterans Park.”
Carolyn Stone Enenstein, Parliamentarian
Mrs. Enenstein has worked for Deloitte Consulting and as a Brand Manager for the Walt Disney Company. She also serves as a member of the Junior League of Los Angeles. Her brother served in the Army in Bosnia on the Stabilization Force, returning to America in 1999 to face a country that generally did not understand or fully appreciate the mission and the magnitude of terror our soldiers had faced.
Carolyn joined the Veterans Park Conservancy Board of Directors to pay tribute to her brother’s service in the United States Army and to help build a memorial park that honors all of our Veterans with a lasting legacy for their service and sacrifice.
Her brother and fellow soldiers greatly need a heroes’ haven—a place where they can gather with fellow veterans and heal and re-assimilate in a brotherly and serene environment that honors veterans, unites everyone with a sense of patriotism, and educates all generations (Carolyn’s brother’s two young nieces included!) with a lasting understanding of what can best be termed the Veteran Experience.
Nancy Z. Freedman
I received a call asking to help save the back 40 acres of the VA from being developed and have never looked back, having been involved in every aspect of this effort to save the land since the 80's. During the George H. Bush administration, helicopters flew over the back 40. We learned they were surveying for a potential hotel. We stopped it. We stopped a football stadium. We have worked endlessly to see that land is not encroached on by groups, be they governmental agencies, universities, developers... I am so proud of the people associated with VPC for the strength and devotion they have for our veterans, and for their time commitment and financial backing. I served as VPC President (1995-96).
My dad and uncles served in WWII. My family has visited the cemetery in Normandy where two of my mother's cousins are buried who gave their lives in France and Germany at very young ages in that war.
Mrs. Freedman is a former member of the Blue Ribbon, Golden Key; was the 2002 Los Angeles YWCA Woman of the Year and founder of Brentwood 90049. She is currently the President of the Brentwood Community Council, and has served as a Trustee for the Brentwood School and John Thomas Dye School. In addition, she received the Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship in 2006. This long-time Brentwood resident and community activist was one of the early VPC board members.
Thomas Rowan Givvin, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, VPC Senior Vice President
Tom Givvin is a decorated Marine veteran who, as owner of the Marina del Rey Garden Center, has been a major resource in VPC’s development of the park.
Between graduation from University of Southern California with a BA degree and being awarded an MBA from Pepperdine University, Tom went to Marine Corps Officers Candidate School in Quantico, VA, served as Second Lieutenant Rifle Platoon Commander in Vietnam and rose to the rank of Captain in the USMC.
Among his many military honors are the National Defense Service Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Vietnam Service Medal with 1 Star, Vietnam Campaign Medal with device, a Presidential Unit Citation, 1st Strike/Flight Air Medal, and Rifle and Pistol Qualification Badges.
Harry L. Macy, U.S. Army Veteran, VPC Vice President
Mr. Macy worked in the mobile and manufactured housing business, where he helped his company become one of the top 25 retail dealerships in California. He is a Director on the Westwood Hills Property Owners Association. Mr. Macy served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War Conflict.
“As a Korean veteran I was motivated to join VPC to accomplish a project
which would be a ‘thank you’ and a payback to those veterans who
volunteered to serve their country and paid a heavy price to do so.,” Mr. Macy says. My
second motivation was to protect a portion of VA property from outside
commercial development that would have provided no support or benefit to
hospital confined veterans.”
“My father served for a short time during WWI in the U.S. Navy. I have an uncle,
Lt. Cmdr. William McRaven ,who was at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7th and stationed
on the cruiser "Raleigh" in dry dock with its stern facing the channel
leading to battle ship row. He organized the stern gun crew and shot down
several Japanese torpedo planes flying towards the ships. He is buried in
our Veterans National Cemetery,” Mr. Macy adds.
John H. McRoskey, U.S. Navy Veteran
Mr. McRoskey is a native of Los Angeles and graduated from the The United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1968. He served aboard destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Viet Nam conflict and was an instructor at the Naval Academy in the Leadership/Tactics Department. John resigned his commission in 1974 as a Lieutenant.
His entire business career has been in commercial real estate. He is currently an Executive Vice President with Jones Lang LaSalle in Los Angeles. John lives in Brentwood with his wife Cindy. They have two adult daughters.
Mr. McRoskey has served on the boards of the Salvation Army, The John Douglas French Alzheimer’s Association, and The Boy Scouts of America.
Gail Feingarten Oppenheimer
Mrs. Oppenheimer is President of Feingarten Galleries and a member of the Art Dealers Association of America. She is active in the work of the Jules Stein Eye Institute and the Stein-Oppenheimer Awards at UCLA. In addition Mrs. Oppenheimer serves on the Board of Directors for the Blue Ribbon, the LACMA Costume Council, and the Diadames of the Child Care League.
Gail’s father was from California but fought in the French Ambulance Corps in 1917. He was wounded and gassed and received the Croix de Guerre. Her brother-in-law was in the Navy during WW II. Her nephew served in the Marine Corps in the Vietnam War and received a Purple Heart Medal.
“All of the men who fought for our country are heroes, and
many have sustained injuries, both physical and psychological,” Ms. Oppenheimer says. “It is up to us, the civilians, to help them enjoy a decent quality of life on their return to the U.S.”
“The new Los Angeles National Veterans Park should be a
beautiful, open space for their enjoyment and serenity,” she adds.
Gerald Oppenheimer, U.S. Air Force Veteran
Mr. Oppenheimer is the President of the Gerald Oppenheimer Family Foundation, a trustee of the Jules Stein Eye Institute, and a director of the Hollywood Canteen Foundation.
Just prior to World War II, Gerald Oppenheimer completed his
secondary education, and then attended Curtis Wright Technical
Institute. He subsequently founded an aviation components business serving defense industries like North American Aviation and Lockheed.
The need for pilot instructors was so great after Pearl Harbor that
he joined the Army Air Force Training Command as a civilian
flight instructor at Thunderbird Field in Arizona. Since he was not
yet 21, he received a waiver to begin teaching Army Air Force
Cadets. (He learned to fly when he was 17 years old.)
After two years at Thunderbird, he joined the Army Air Force
as a Warrant Officer testing and ferrying planes for the Air
Transport Command. After the war, he joined the active Air Force
Reserve as a First Lieutenant and received regular Combat Wings
instead of Service Pilot Wings.
He was recalled to serve in the Korean War and was sent to Austin
Texas to fly F-84 Jets for the Strategic Air Command. The 12th
Fighter Wing was sent to England and flew training missions over
most of Europe. Gunnery practice was done in Tripoli.
When his outfit was returned to the U.S., he was assigned as a pilot
replacement to Japan for nine months. Then he was sent to K8 in
South Korea. He had flown 21 interdiction and ground combat missions.
His work for veterans includes his position as Director of the Hollywood Canteen Foundation, the group that provided entertainers who hosted servicemen and women on leave during WW II.
He has been on the Board of the Veterans Park Conservancy for
more than 15 years and has been a driving force in the work to honor
veterans and preserving veterans' land for their benefit.
Mrs. Donald Petroni (Ann)
Mrs. Petroni has served on the Board of Directors of Children’s Institute International and is a past member of the Los Angeles Commission for the Status of Women and the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission.
Among her connections with veterans: Her father was a pilot, who taught night flying in Texas. When World War I broke out, he went overseas to fly missions in Europe. In World War II, her aunt served as a WAC (the Women's Army Corp).
“During those years when I was growing up in Massachusetts, we welcomed soldiers from Ft. Devens to our country home. My mother rolled bandages for the Red Cross,” she recalls. “I remember joining others in placing flags on veteran's graves and participating in parades.”
Many years later , her husband Don proudly served in the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Corps from 1953-1955 in Trieste, Italy and in Vienna.
“When we moved to Los Angeles it was natural (and a privilege) to continue my
service by volunteering to support the mission of the Veterans Park Conservancy,” Mrs. Petroni says. “For many years I have been active on the Board and am pleased to see that our ambitious plans to help our veterans are beginning to come true.”
Frank E. Raab, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy Veteran, VPC Vice President
Rear Admiral Frank E. Raab, a consultant to management, is former President and CEO of the Insurance Company of North America, and is former Chairman and CEO of Alliance Insurance Company. Rear Admiral Raab served for two years in the Korean War and four years in WW II with the Seabees. He has been a Navy Reserve Officer for 36 years.
Recalling his involvement with Veterans Park Conservancy, Rear Admiral Raab says, “For many years, when driving down Wilshire past the Veterans Home area, I was saddened to see the old rusty fences and unkempt shrubbery along the way. The sight was particularly disturbing to me because my Dad, who was a Spanish American War Veteran, was a patient for a short time at the old Sawtelle Hospital.”
“When I heard that the Veterans Park Conservancy wanted to spruce the place up,” he adds, “and make it a place that veterans would be proud of—I said, ‘Sign me up.’”
Henley Saltzburg, Esq., VPC President
Henley is the senior partner in Saltzburg, Ray and Bergman, which specializes in commercial and real estate transactions. A native of Los Angeles, he holds both an undergraduate degree and a law degree from UCLA.
His wife Diane (Didi) has been a long time volunteer for the VPC since 1995.
According to Henley, he has watched the not always beneficial changes that have happened over the years and is been continually concerned that the Veterans Park property not fall victim to developers and other parties who would claim usage of the property for their own purposes. His offices in the Tishman Building, which gave him a bird’s eye view of the VA, enabled him to see many of those changes.
Henley’s community activities include Camp Ronald McDonald, Saint Josephs Hospital, LA Police Historical Society, Stop Cancer, and UCLA Medical Center.
Alexa Scharff, Secretary
Mrs. Scharff serves on the Board of Directors for The Group in support of Otis College of Art & Design. She is also a member of the President's Circle and Costume Council of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Les Amies in support of Children’s Institute International.
Mrs. Scharff graduated from UCLA with degrees in economics and fashion design. She created the fashion department at Lanz and a bathing suit department for Lord & Taylor in New York. Her designs have been featured in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
Lester Stein, Air National Guard Veteran, CFO
Lester Stein served in the Air National Guard for six years and his brother-in-law was in the 1st Marine Division in Korea. Lester joined Veterans Park Conservancy because he believes that there is an obligation and responsibility to our nation's veterans to provide the best support and services possible.
He is the Conservancy’s CFO and specializes in the areas of taxation, accounting and business management services. His expertise includes tax and financial accounting services, as well as litigation support services for closely held businesses and entertainment and professional practice clients.
Mr. Stein is a certified public accountant (CPA) licensed in the state of California. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the California Society of Certified Public Accountants.
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Los Angeles.
Sue Young is the former Executive Director of Veteran's Park Conservancy.
Mrs. Young is the recipient of the Army Communities of Excellence Award, San Vicente-Brentwood Chamber of Commerce "Citizen of the Year" Award, and the BRAVO Achievement Award for outstanding service to the Greater Los Angeles Veterans’ community. Sue’s father, uncle and cousin served in the Armed Services.
"It has been a privilege for me to work with the dedicated members of the Veterans Park Conservancy. All of us are grateful to the generous contributors, concerned citizens, West Los Angeles VA officials and civic leaders who have been partners in our mission to preserve, protect and restore this extraordinary property for the American veteran."
Real Admiral John C. Weaver, U.S. Navy, Retired
Rear Admiral John Weaver serves on several boards, including the Naval Academy Foundation’s Executive Committee, and is past chairman of the Naval Institute Foundation and the Naval Aviation Foundation.
Weaver was formerly the Executive Vice President of Raytheon and served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Raytheon International, Inc., with overall responsibility for business development and Corporate Operations in Washington, D.C.
Prior to the merger with Raytheon, he was a Corporate Executive Vice President of Hughes Electronics Corporation and President and Chief Operation Officer of Hughes Aircraft Company. He joined Hughes Electronics in November 1990, following retirement from the U.S. Navy.
A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he is proud to have played on the Navy football team that beat Mississippi, 21-0, in the 1955 Sugar Bowl. He also played on the 1955 College All Star team that defeated the Cleveland Browns.
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School in 1962 and a Master of Science degree in aero-electronics the following year.
Harve Bennett U.S. Army Veteran
Harve Bennett was one of Los Angeles’s best-known veterans. Mr. Bennett, a veteran of the Korean Conflict and 13-time Emmy nominated writer and producer was a member of the Veterans Park Conservancy Board of Directors since 1991.
Mr. Bennett had ties to our military that spanned over 50 years, as well as 65 years of show business experience – a career that began in radio, expanded into television, and culminated with four feature pictures that grossed over a billion dollars.
Harve Bennett Fischman, the son of a pioneer female reporter, was born in Chicago. In 1941 at the age of ten, he debuted on radio’s “Quiz Kids” and was soon a household name. The show toured the nation during World War II selling War Bonds and entertaining troops.
Ms. Krause is a “Distinguished Patron of the Arts of the Los Angeles Music Center” and is a founder and event co-chair of Cedars Sinai Research for Women’s Cancers. In addition, she serves as a board member for KCET Public Television; Blue Ribbon Music Center; Coalition for Pets and Public Safety and the UCLA Foundation.
Explaining her interest in VPC: “ My father and my husband served in the armed services.
I have the greatest respect and appreciation for all those men and women who chose to serve our country so that we may live in freedom.
“I joined the board of the VPC to help preserve the land that was dedicated to them and to keep it out of the hands of commercial interests,” she adds.
Carl Murray, U.S. Air Force Veteran
Carl graduated from the US Naval Academy. Captain Murray spent five years as a pilot with the US Air Force in the Marshall Islands Atomic Test Series, in Japan, and as General’s Aide and pilot at Amarillo Air Force Base in Texas. Returning to Los Angeles in 1961, Carl joined Hughes Aircraft as a sales engineer and program manager.
He graduated from the Midland School, the United States Naval Academy, and the Anderson School of Business at UCLA. Carl also serves on the Board of Directors of the Bel-Air Homeowners Association.
“After an education at the United States Naval Academy and a rewarding service in Japan and Enewetak, I wanted to give something back. The Veterans Park Conservancy is a cause I believe in,” Mr. Murray says.
Thomas V. Jones
Mr. Jones is the founder and proprietor of Moraga Vineyard Company and the former CEO and Chairman of Northrop Corporation. He has served on the Board of Trustees of the California Nature Conservancy for 35 years.
"Living in the neighborhood for most of my life; each time I drove by the Veteran’s Center I always felt that the condition it was in was a disgrace to the veterans it was intended to honor," Mr. Jones states. "When I was approached to help privately fund improvements, I enthusiastically said yes."
Russ Alben, U.S. Army Veteran
As President of Russ Alben Creative Services, Mr. Alben served as a marketing consultant for Mattel, Ralston, Shell, Coca-Cola, Kraft, and Hershey. He was Senior Partner-Creative Director of Ogilvy & Mather. He created the Timex Watch campaign and has done pro bono work for UNICEF and Smoky the Bear. He serves as a director on the Bel-Air Homeowners Association.
Regarding his support for Veteran Park Conservancy: “In 1918, my grandfather asked the NY City Parks Department for permission to build a modest park in Brooklyn named ‘Alben Square’ to honor his son ‘Bud’, the first soldier in Borough Park to die in World War I. My father, Miles served in the US Navy.
The ‘Bud H. Alben Post of Veterans of Foreign Wars’ has honored veterans for three generations. I loved the memorial day events.
My family name on the flagpole is an inheritance I will never forget.
After Pearl Harbor, I was a bicycle messenger during air raid drills. Then my parents found out. I was 13 but defending America was
a family tradition so they bought me binoculars and told me to stay home and spot enemy planes.
I enlisted in the Army Reserves in 1950 during the Korean War and served with the 77th Infantry Division -- the same Division that Bud fought and died with in France. I was never called to active duty but I reenlisted for six years.
Working with the Veterans Park Conservancy is a privilege I will never forget.”
General Gwynn H. Robinson, U.S. Air Force Veteran
The “Greatest Generation” had no finer representative than the Chairman of our Board of Directors, Gwynn Herndon Robinson, Major-General USAF Ret.
Gwynn’s story was, in every way, an example of the American Dream. Born in New York City in 1920 to a family of limited means, he began his long list of accomplishments with a series of scholastic scholarships to the best known private schools in the East. He graduated from Choate in 1938, turned down a scholarship to Princeton, enrolled instead at M.I.T. where he joined the R.O.T.C., enjoying his first contact with the military.
Van R. Kelsey II, U.S. Navy Veteran
Van Kelsey joined the Veterans Park Conservancy as a way of showing his appreciation for the sacrifice of veterans and their families. And he didn't have to look too far beyond his own family which was well-represented in World War II.
Van himself was in the Navy Air Transport Service. Brother Dick Kelsey was a Lead Navigator who flew many bombing missions over Germany. John Kelsey was in the Army Air Corps flying wounded soldiers and freight to destinations throughout the United States.
All the Kelsey airmen looked up to Uncle Charles Lovelace Mullins who graduated from West Point. Rising to the rank of Major General, he later later led the Twenty-Fifth Division. After the Japanese surrender in 1945, he served under General MacArthur in charge of 100,000 American personnel in the army of occupation in Japan.