Passages: Hadi Monsef, 1933-2014

Passages: Hadi Monsef, 1933-2014

Michele Ellson
Hadi Monsef

Hadi Monsef, a beloved former city councilman and a longtime real estate broker who dedicated much of his life to serving the community he loved through the local Rotary Club and many other volunteer activities, has died. He was 81.

“He was a person with a huge heart, and he really loved helping people and our community,” said Jan Mason, a close friend who knew Monsef for 35 years and worked with him at OMM Inc., the real estate firm she owns.

Friends remembered Monsef as a man of honor who was able to respect differing points of view while maintaining his own, and as someone who was an integral member of the small band of deeply dedicated volunteers who have taken responsibility for maintaining Alameda’s rich community life. Friends also described him as a sharply dressed gentleman and a mentor who helped guide them through the corridors of power.

“One of the most outstanding characteristics about Hadi was his integrity. If he told you something, you could depend on it,” said Del Blaylock, a longtime friend and fellow Rotarian.

Blaylock and others who worked with him in Rotary – which he served as a local club president and district governor – said he embodied the Rotary motto of Service Above Self.

“He was involved in everything,” said Kathy Moehring, who met Monsef in the 1980s.

Moehring said she treasured Monsef’s ability to disagree with friends on political issues without making things personal. After his stint on the council, Monsef served on several city and county committees.

“What I personally appreciated about him was his ability to listen to different points of view, have his own, but not disrespect you for yours,” she said.

In addition to being a dedicated public servant and volunteer, Mason said Monsef was a terrific Persian cook who loved to play bocce and take walks, often with a teacup in hand.

“We are saddened by the loss of our patriarch and mentor. We were the family of OMM,” said Mason, who said word of Monsef’s passing has prompted hundreds of calls from well-wishers.

A native of Iran, Monsef came to the United States for college in the 1950s, graduating from Oklahoma State University with an electrical engineering degree in 1962 and then moved to California, where he worked for the state in Sacramento and then Bechtel Corp. in San Francisco before coming to Alameda in the early 1970s.

Monsef served on Alameda’s Public Utilities Commission from 1975 to 1983 and was appointed to the City Council in 1983, to fill Anne Diament’s seat when she became mayor. He served on the council as a member and vice mayor until 1989, where he was identified by a resolution thanking him for his service as the chief advocate for a strategic planning process for the city and the proponent of a nonsmoking ordinance.

In addition to his leadership at Rotary, Monsef twice served as president of the Alameda Association of REALTORS®, earning the organization’s Distinguished Service Award and an honorary life membership for his service. He was also active in Girls Inc. of the Island City and Rhythmix Cultural Works – Mason said Monsef recommended the arts center form the community advisory board he sat on – and he served as the mayor’s liaison for military affairs for Mayor Marie Gilmore and former Mayor Beverly Johnson.

“Hadi Monsef’s dedication to his fellow members, clients, colleagues, and community served as an inspiration to others. He will be truly missed by the Alameda Association of REALTORS® and all who knew him,” said Anne DeBardeleben, the association’s current president.

Friends who knew Monsef well described him as an exemplar of a golden era of local volunteerism and service in Rotary, Elks and other community organizations.

“Hadi is the epitome of that sense of duty and wanting to see the community have those things that make the community wonderful,” said Barbara Price, who met Monsef when both were on the councils of East Bay cities and who volunteered with him at countless functions over the years.

Kathie Woulfe, a friend and fellow longtime volunteer, said she’ll miss her standing annual date with Monsef as docents of the Alameda Family Services League’s Alameda Holiday Home Tour.

“I truly love Hadi and his dedication to Alameda's community at large,” Woulfe said. “In our next world, I know Hadi will be there to greet us all with open arms, and whisk us off to a soirée that will beat all."

In this world, though, friends say he is irreplaceable.

“Who’s going to replace Hadi in terms of serving this community? We all will, because we want to continue his legacy,” Mason said.

A public memorial for Monsef is being held at 1:30 p.m. Friday, September 12 at the Elks Lodge, 2255 Santa Clara Avenue. In lieu of flowers, friends are requested to make contributions in Monsef’s name to Girls Inc. of the Island City and the Alameda Rotary Endowment Foundation. Checks for the latter foundation, which contributes to Alameda charities, can be made out to AREF and mailed to P.O. Box 2403, Alameda, Calif. 94501-0244.

Comments

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Thu, Aug 28, 2014

I have a few more comments that were sent in to me that didn't make the story but that I wanted to share.

From Karen Kenney of Girls Inc. (via Jan Mason): "His long time leadership and support of Girls Inc. was a cherished gift to our organization. Hadi provided this same support to countless organizations and to the City of Alameda."

From Patty Nicola-Sofranac via our Facebook page: "Very sad news! Alway a gentleman! Got me in the doors of AUSD, and I am proud to have but 20 years in thus far. I will always be thankful to him. RIP Hadi"

From Steve Sorensen, also from our Facebook page: "Hadi was a class act. Always dressed professionally and truly was a nice guy...very sad to hear of his passing."

More comments on today's Facebook post on our page, which is here: https://www.facebook.com/AlamedaCommunityNewsProject