Pillar of Achievement - 2000
Master weaver and master builder. Idol. Pioneer. Mentor. Mr. Culver City.
In February, 1996, Syd Kronenthal marked his 50th year on the job with Culver City’s Parks & Recreation Department, the department he, said the Culver City News, “virtually created from scratch.” His half-century of service was the longest tenure of any employee in the State of California.
Before Kronenthal retired in June, 1998, he had helped develop thirteen parks in Culver City, created a plethora of recreation programs, and touched nearly four generations of people.
Early on, he led a $650,000 bond issue (90% of voters approved) that resulted in the development of Culver City’s Veterans Memorial Building, the Olympic-size swimming pool, and the new recreation buildings at McManus Park and West End Park--essentially, the foundation of the City’s parks system. In the early 1990s, McManus Park was renamed Kronenthal Park.
Syd founded “Western Wheels” in 1947--originally wheelchair basketball, eventually including track & field and tennis. He was known as “the father of wheelchair sports”. In 1949, he founded the Western Hemisphere Marathon (second oldest in U.S.). A City youth and community center and a multi-purpose senior citizens center all evolved from the Kronenthal portfolio. And, he has been recognized for his role in getting soccer started and moving forward in the U.S.
In the mid-1950s, Syd served on the committee that made final recommendations regarding the Brooklyn Dodgers’ proposed move to L.A. And, in 1968, he joined City and County officials in Mexico City in the quest to bring the Olympic Games to Los Angeles.
Kronenthal came to Culver City in December, 1945, still in his Army Air Corps uniform. Upon discharge, he served a two-year stint as supervisor of rehabilitation for the Veterans Administration, before returning to Culver City permanently. In 1958, Syd was appointed Recreation Supervisor, and three years later named Director of Parks and Recreation. At his retirement, he held the position of Human Resources Director.
A recipeint of numerous civic and community awards, Syd’s honors include the State of California’s “Mr. Recreation” designation, presented by his colleagues at the 1990 CPRS Conference.
Born in Chicago, Syd Kronenthal attended Northwestern University and graduated the University of Southern California, summa cum laude.