December 13, 2017

Manfred Schlosser Has Died

 



One of Topanga Canyon’s most active and devoted citizens, Manfred Schlosser, has died. Many who knew him well were shocked to learn that he had been seriously ill. As chairman of the Topanga Town Council, sometimes referred to as our “unofficial mayor,” Manfred was publicly passionate about preserving the Topanga he roamed and explored as a child. But he remained very private about his personal life.

Manfred died on May 20 at Brotman Medical Center of multiple organ failure after less than two days in the hospital. He was 40 years old.

He has left behind an enthusiasm for community service and a slate of ambitions for Topanga that many people are already scrambling to carry forward.

For one, he wanted to see the old Wildwood pool, where he swam when he was a boy, reopened for today’s Topanga children. He also planned to seek grant dollars to help with a community library project. And most recently, he agreed to give the Topanga Days parade one more try, even though he and everyone else, swore “never again” after last year’s difficulties.

PHOTO BY ANTHONY P VEREBES

Manfred Schlosser Has Died

The Topanga Days Parade was dedicated to the memory of Manfred Schlosser.



As it turned out, he was too weak to finish preparations for the parade, but it did go forward. It was dedicated to his memory, with an enlarged picture of him wearing a light and carefree smile and riding in a place of honor, Vic Richard’s Mustang convertible, at the front of the parade.

Everyone who knew Manfred says first and foremost “he loved Topanga” and was working hard to keep the sense of community here that characterized Topanga before it went “upscale.”

Manfred moved to Topanga just before the fires of 1993, into a house on Sunset Trail built by his grandfather and father. He was returning to the place where he spent most of his spare time as a child, especially in the summer, because of his family ties here.

Manfred was born in Herdorf, Germany on September 7, 1962. His family moved, when he was a child, to Santa Monica. But Topanga Canyon quickly became part of his life because of another Herdorf family that lived here and his childhood best friend Doug Hanson.

“Topanga Canyon is a famous place in some parts of Germany,” said Doug, whose grandparents from Herdorf were host to a large community of fellow immigrants and visitors from Germany for countless gatherings and holiday celebrations. He now lives in the house they bought on Horseshoe Drive in the late 1940s after years living and working on the Dix Ranch on Saddle Peak.

“We grew up really tight,” said Doug of his friendship with Manfred. “We were always together….It was almost like a brotherly type relationship.

“We used to go hiking as far as we could, up different trails,” said Doug. And they brought tools to clear the way so they could keep going.

“We were always building huts and forts. All of our time in Topanga was spent outside in the hills.”

They shared a love of building things and creativity. Manfred always liked challenging strategy games like Risk, said Doug, not Monopoly or Life.

“Childhood memories are always extra special in our hearts,” said Doug. “I think that’s why he got so involved in the community at a later age.”

Manfred went to St. Monica’s for elementary and high school and then attended Santa Monica College and Arizona State University. He graduated from the Southern California Institute of Architecture in 1989 and went on to work on a wide variety of projects. He was on the organizing committee for the First Conference on the Re-greening of the L.A. River and several other urban planning projects, including Lincoln Heights, Hollywood Boulevard, the Third Street Promenade and an affordable housing and homeless strategy master plan for Las Vegas.

In 1991 he received an award from NASA-Ames Research for window design for the Space Station Freedom, a special challenge to incorporate an architectural aesthetic to an engineering oriented project.

From 1997 though 2002, he was project manager at Innerspace Inc. for a nationwide string of Skechers stores and other retail shops.

Most recently he formed a corporation with fellow Topangan and SCI-ARC graduate Mohan Joshi – M+M design, construction, project management and facilities management.

Mohan, who had known Manfred for 16 years, said the idea of teaming up came to them one evening over a chess game, wine and cigars. They both had lost their jobs after September 11.

“Between the two of us, we’ve got all the connections we need,” they agreed that night.

They had much in common. They even learned that they had become U.S. citizens within a day or two of each other a few years earlier.

Manfred Schlosser Has Died

Manfred Schlosser, September 7, 1962 - May 20, 2003, with a friendís lynx.



M+M also had the virtue of being the initials of someone else dear to Manfred —Mickey Mouse.

“He fell in love with Mickey Mouse at a very young age,” Mohan said.

In 1988, Manfred worked on EuroDisney and Splash Mountain.

During most of last year, Mohan said Manfred, who was also recently divorced, was beginning to perk up. They had all the work they could hope for. But then things started to slow down and there were financial concerns, though they knew building the business would take time. But when two jobs came back to life recently, Manfred was too weak to pursue them.

“Everything he touched, he did with a sense of pride,” said Mohan. “He was the kind of person who loved to help. He was very kind and very generous.”

Sometimes, Mohan said, Manfred would be so busy on community business phone calls that he would forget his dinner on the table until 10 or 11 p.m.

“He was a very, very good listener. That was one of his really remarkable qualities,” said Mohan.

He knew Topanga so well that he would tell you all the fruits and berries you could eat, Mohan said.

In addition to his love for nature and animals, Manfred loved children.

“He would definitely like to see the pool open. That’s one thing he felt passionate about,” Mohan said.

In support of Topanga Elementary School, earlier this year, the Town Council awarded each teacher a check for $50 and sponsored the fourth-grade essay contest. He also wanted to help establish a fine arts program at the school, said Mohan.

Anthony Hall, who is now serving as Town Council chairman, said Manfred wanted to make the Council representative of the community so he increased its size and drew in people from different areas of Topanga.

“He loved Topanga,” said Anthony. “He really wanted there to be a real sense of community, a real cohesive sense, more than just a bedroom community of L.A.,” said Anthony. “He was very concerned about losing sight of how Topanga is a very special place.”

Manfred was also proud that the Town Council became the 50th “city” to pass a resolution against the war in Iraq, Anthony said.

During the last nine years, Manfred has been involved in almost every Topanga civic organization, including the Firesafe Committee and the Community House Improvement Committee. As a long-time volunteer for the Topanga Coalition for Emergency Preparedness, he headed the engineers and architects’ assessment committee to train local professionals in damage assessment.

Vic Richards was one of the few who knew that Manfred was ill.

“He hadn’t been feeling well for a while,” said Vic.

He said they worked together on all the same committees and became “pretty good buddies.”

“We’d have long talks a least once a week. I’m going to miss him.”

Vic said Manfred was doing a good job on the Town Council.

“He’s a good guy to work with.”

Tony Morris said Topanga will feel the loss of Manfred.

“He was an inspired, hardworking person who was dedicated to making Topanga a better place to live. He was looking forward to really doing things, and knowing him, he would have really done them.”

A funeral service was held on May 24 at St. Timothy’s Catholic Church in Rancho Park. The family asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to “Manfred’s projects” at the Topanga Town Council. Manfred is survived by his parents, Lisl and Dieter Schlosser, and his sister Sabine.