13 Aug Remembering Charles Eddy (1941-2020)
Friends of the Los Angeles River lost a long-time friend and dedicated board member recently with the passing of Charles Eddy. Charles was an accomplished environmental attorney, brilliant problem-solver, and indispensable coach and mentor to all who had the fortune of knowing him. “Charles was one of my closest mentors at the start of my journey with FoLAR”, reflects Marissa Christiansen, FoLAR CEO. “His passion and expertise was staggering, and his constant support a ballast. I will miss him immensely.” He was known for a no-nonsense approach to complicated situations – most notably with FoLAR, Charles spearheaded and managed the development and launch of our iconic River Rover. FoLAR Board Chair M-K O’Connell recalls, “Daunting projects never fazed him; he simply rolled up his sleeves and got the job done.”
Charles dedicated his life to championing the underdog – shortly after earning his law degree from Cornell he created alumni funds to support low income clients and graduates serving public interests. He was a passionate environmentalist, lending his insights from environmental law to the Carter Administration, serving in the White House on the President’s Council on Environmental Quality and later in the Department of the Interior as Deputy Assistant Secretary, Energy and Minerals. Thereafter, Charles moved with his family to Los Angeles, where he balanced his professional life with generous donations of time to various initiatives and organizations, including Friends of the Los Angeles River, where he left his own indelible mark on the River and our organization.
Known for his willingness to delve into the details, fellow FoLAR Board Member Alex Ward remembers Charles’s “combination of gravitas, humor, and eagerness to lend his energy and expertise to a cause he clearly thought was important. I always enjoyed being in Charles’s company, because you could always count on him to bring a lot of background knowledge and clear thinking to any issue, at the same time leavened with a wicked sense of humor and amusement at the world’s foibles.”
Charles’s impact on the LA River’s future will live on, principally in the thousands of students who will first experience our urban ecosystem with a visit to FoLAR’s LA River Rover. O’Connell remembers, “Frankly, Charles’ approach to the River Rover project surprised me. Until then, I had considered him something of an elder statesman: someone who would stand back and pontificate, drawing on his many years of experience and wide range of expertise. But the River Rover showed me he was more than that. Charles was, at heart, a doer. Sure, he could wax eloquent on myriad subjects, and devise ingenious solutions, but he also saw these solutions through to the end. He got the job done.” Thanks to Charles’s leadership and our team of educators an estimated 50,000 students have experienced the River Rover since its inception.
Charles is survived by his wife, Brenda their three children, Marisa, Billy and Matt (and their spouses Mike, Sandie and Staci), their seven grandchildren. Charles’s son-in-law, Mike Kelly, continues to serve on FoLAR’s Advisory Board.