Remembering Wally Marks | 1931-2009
PSR-LA had the privilege of honoring the late Wally Marks, and his wife of 50 years and partner in activism, Suzy Marks, at our gala dinner in 2004. Wally was a beloved and respected peace activist in Los Angeles, and he will be deeply missed. His mission to donate all of his considerable real estate fortune to make the world better impacted progressive causes locally and abroad.
Coming from a prominent local family, Wally breached a huge cultural divide, moving from the country club to the protest line, from the cloistered enclaves to working for peace and justice issues. Through his association with the Liberty Hill Foundation in 1986, Wally began to learn about grass roots organizations throughout Los Angeles County who were striving for social, economic, and environmental justice in their communities. He served as a Liberty Hill board member for nearly two decades. Suzy’s activism began in 1982 with her involvement in the California Nuclear Freeze movement. Along the way, they raised four exceptional children, sustained and grew a successful real estate business, now ably operated by their son, Wally.
Wally and Suzy’s passion to engage in grassroots issues and philanthropy had its roots in the social teachings of Rabbi Leonard Beerman, Founding Rabbi of Leo Baeck Temple, where Wally and Suzy have been members for the past 48 years, and in the counsel of their longtime family friend, Jean Sieroty and Jean’s son and their dear friend, former State Senator, Alan Sieroty.
A graduate of Beverly Hills High School, Wally attended Stanford University, receiving both an undergraduate degree and a graduate degree in law. He joined his father in the real estate business in 1958. After his father developed the Santa Monica Mall in the 1960s, Wally helped transform it into the Third Street Promenade in the 1980s. “He always felt that he never really deserved the good fortune that was bestowed upon him as a young man, and he developed a great sensitivity to the underdog,” Suzy once said.
During the course of his business years, Wally was always been sensitive to the need for reasonable rents for nonprofits, particularly those engaged in progressive causes. As a result, his family company has offered low-cost office space in its buildings to special groups including
Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, Women Against Gun Violence, Planned Parenthood, Liberty Hill Foundation, the Midnight Special Bookstore, and the California Clean Money Campaign.
Remembered for his humanity, generosity, and willingness to live out his values, his friends and family will miss him dearly – his wife Suzy; his sister, Marlene; his children, Laurie and Mark, Wally and Carol, Amanda and John, and Wendy and Gary; and his grandchildren, Ruby, Zoe, Aaron, Jonah, Samantha, Austin, Jackson, Nick, Amy and Mary.