Long time community leader Albert Vera passed away this morning, May 31, from a heart attack. He will be missed throughout the community for his renowned generosity.
Vera was born in Naples, Italy in 1934. He became a Culver City resident in 1950 and served in the United States Army from 1958-1960. He opened Sorrento Italian Market in 1962 and married his wife, Ursula, the following year. The Vera’s two sons, Ralph and Albert Jr., were educated in Culver City schools.
Committed to his community, Vera was active in a remarkable number of organizations. He served most recently as Interim Chair Baldwin Hills Conservancy in 2002.
Former mayor and commuinty activist Jozelle Smith commented ” Albert’s dedication to the city, it’s residents and businesses is legendary. He will be long remembered for his untiring efforts to make Culver City a better place.”
Vera will remembered for his service as a Culver City Council Member from 1992-2000, Culver City Mayor in 1994, and a member of the Culver City Civil Service Commission in 1981. He was an also a member of the American Legion, the Elks Club, the Knights of Columbus, the Culver City Education Foundation, the Culver City Chamber of Commerce, the Exchange Club, the Culver City Democratic Club and the Culver City Sister City Committee.
His recent erratic behavior was, as suspected, a harbinger of ill health.
He is survived by his wife, Ursula, and his son Albert, Jr.
The last time I saw Albert Vera was this past Friday when I went in to Sorrento to buy cannolis and bread for Judith Martin Straw’s dinner party. I was also looking for some Progresso caponata, an eggplant appetizer.
Albert was there, as he often was, and told me that Progresso had discontinued the product, but he had brought some things back from New York (“I grew up on Progresso!” I had wailed). Seeing that I had put one of Vera’s jars of caponata on the counter, he said it was no charge, “From me to you.”
I replied that I always felt a little homesick for New York when I came in the store, and also a bit like a little kid, because Albert would always wind up giving me something for free, just like the old-timers I knew in the Italian delis back home…with Albert, it was always a cookie, or a loaf of bread, or some other little thing…an expression of his generosity and warmth…when I had my son and we would visit the store together, I could always count on Albert to give him a delicious treat also – just like other kind store owners did in the old days of my own childhood.
One holiday Albert bailed me out with some good fix-it advice when I inadvertently put some wine that had turned bad into the tomato sauce I’d been cooking all day for dinner. He sent me on my way with a couple of jars of his own tomato sauce (no charge), “just in case…”
Culver City just won’t be the same without Albert Vera, but I know his neighborliness warmed a lot of hearts here, including mine. His goodness will outlive him in the many sweet memories he created just by being him.
Joanne Tortorici Luna
I will never forget you Uncle Albert!
May you rest in peace.
Love & prayers Aunt Ursula & Little Albert!
What a shock. I’ve been going to Sorrento for a few years now….This is very disturbing….I’ll pass the word…