FormerTorrance City Councilman George Surber has died at age 91.
FormerTorrance City Councilman George Surber has died at age 91.
Former Torrance Councilman George Surber, who won re-election in 1974 by just two votes - the closest winning margin in municipal history - died this week in Hemet, Calif.

Surber, 91, a 30-year Los Angeles Police Department veteran, died Monday of heart failure, said his daughter, Sandra Hoffmeister.

"He was an amazing man; he was such a nice guy," she said of her father, who was legally blind and lived with her.

"He was a good cop," she added. "He treated people with respect and always wanted to do the right thing. Everyone knew him for his stories and his sense of humor."

Surber was born July 29, 1921, in Guthrie, Okla., to Emmert and Annie Surber.

Former Torrance City Councilman George Surber, who died at age 91, was an LAPD officer.
Former Torrance City Councilman George Surber, who died at age 91, was an LAPD officer.
The family moved to Southern California when he was an infant, settling in Redondo Beach after his father took a supervisory job at what was then the Torrance Mobil Oil Refinery.

Surber graduated from Redondo Union High School and joined the Marine Corps shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

He served for four years, participating in the Battle of Guadalcanal, the first major offensive by Allied forces against Japan in World War II, and contracted malaria at that time.

Surber joined the LAPD in 1947 and retired in 1977.

During his tenure he worked 15 years in Watts, where he was stabbed 17 times by a shoplifter he had tried to stop while working a second job as a security guard, and was hit on the freeway during a traffic stop.


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"He discharged his weapon (on duty) twice," said friend Dan Walker, a former Torrance mayor. "He shot his partner once and he shot himself once."

Surber was awarded the LAPD's Medal of Valor in 1968 for saving the lives of an injured woman and four children, Torrance spokeswoman Jamie Le said.

Surber was "a conservative, to put it mildly," Walker said of the former John Birch Society member. He first won election to the City Council in 1970, placing third in a 19-candidate field seeking three seats.

Four years later he won re-election by just two votes. The ballots were recounted three times, he later told current City Clerk Sue Herbers.

"I couldn't be prouder of anyone I ever served with," Walker said. "He's the kind of person you would love to have as a friend - you could always count on him."

But Surber resigned two years into his second term for personal reasons - he told the Daily Breeze at the time the city's high home prices played a role in his decision - and moved to Palmdale.

A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Nov. 28 at Miller-Jones Mortuary, 1501 W. Florida Ave., in Hemet, with a graveside service to follow at Riverside National cemetery.

In addition to Hoffmeister, he is survived by two sons, Ronald of Placerville, Calif., and David of Long Beach; a brother, Joe of Huntington Beach; two grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.


nick.green@dailybreeze.com
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