Local and state officials Wednesday mourned the death of John Van de Kamp, the former Los Angeles County district attorney and California attorney general.
Van de Kamp died at his home in Pasadena Tuesday after a brief illness, the Los Angeles Times reported. He was 81.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey called Van de Kamp “one of the most ethical and kind-hearted people I’ve ever met.”
“He was an admired public servant who dedicated his life to seeking justice,” Lacey said, noting that Van de Kamp established one of the nation’s first victim services programs during his tenure as district attorney.
“On a personal note, I am thankful for John’s wisdom and gentle guidance throughout my tenure,” Lacey said. “I frequently sought his advice and looked up to him as a stalwart of the justice system. Like many, I mourn his passing, and I will miss his wisdom, his wit and his kindness.”
Gov. Jerry Brown, who was also governor when Van de Kamp was district attorney, said “John was a wonderful public servant and had a real sense of justice.”
Said Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger: “I am truly saddened by this news having just seen him recently. And while he’ll be remembered as an icon in county and state law and government and for his many years in public life, John Van de Kamp was also a great family man, and with his wife, Andrea, they were a powerhouse couple.”
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said he was “deeply saddened” by the death of his friend and mentor.
“An extraordinary leader of impeccable integrity, John never backed away from taking strong, principled stands on tough issues,” Feuer said.
“John was supremely effective at everything he did – always with a quiet confidence and devotion to public service that inspired generations of lawyers. My prayers are with Andrea and the Van de Kamp family at this difficult time.”
State Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Van de Kamp “lived for the values of justice and opportunity that define the state of California.
“I will forever be grateful for the confidence he showed in me from my earliest days of public service under his leadership at the California Department of Justice,” Becerra said. “Most recently, he was there for me again offering wise counsel, as I prepared to assume my role as attorney general of California.
“John understood the higher calling of public service. He performed for the people of California like few others.”
A graduate of Dartmouth College and Stanford Law School, Van de Kamp was a federal public defender before becoming the county’s top prosecutor.
Van de Kamp was Los Angeles County’s district attorney from 1975-1983.
During his tenure, his office handled many high-profile cases including the Hillside Strangler murders.
Van de Kamp was California’s attorney general from 1983-91. In 1990, he unsuccessfully sought the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, losing to Dianne Feinstein, who lost the general election to Republican Pete Wilson.
Van de Kamp worked in private practice after leaving politics and remained active in environmental causes.
In 2011, he was retained to serve as Vernon’s independent ethics advisor as that city battled an effort by state lawmakers to dissolve it because of a corruption probe.
Van de Kamp’s role expanded and he was selected as the city’s independent special counsel in 2015, delivering his most recent biannual assessments of the city’s good governance practices on Jan. 31.
Vernon’s mayor and City Council members paid tribute to his service for the city Wednesday.
“It is with our deepest regard and respect that we mourn the passing of John Van de Kamp, a man who began as our trusted good governance advisor and, over time, became a dear friend to the people of Vernon and its vibrant business community,” Vernon Mayor William Davis said.