“Marva Smith Battle-Bey’s focused and consistently positive energy will be missed by all of us working to improve conditions in South L.A.,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who like other community leaders, family and friends reached out to various media outlets recently, expressing their grief for Battle-Bey’s passing.
“The shopping centers at Vermont & Slauson, which she helped develop and manage, are just a small part of her legacy. For many years she was a successful and positive role model for so many in the community.”
Battle-Bey, who spent 30 years leading the Vermont-Slauson Economic Development Corporation died April 7. As of Sentinel press time, there was no information on the cause of death. Battle-Bey grew up in Detroit, initially graduating with a B.S. in Urban Planning from Michigan State before heading to Los Angeles where she graduated from planning school at the University of Southern California. She worked for Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley before joining the Vermont Slauson EDC in 1981. Her first major project was the Vermont Slauson Shopping Center, which opened in 1981. It had been the first major retail investment in the community since the 1965 Watts riots.
In 2007, she received national recognition for her efforts in South Los Angeles, from the Small Business Administration who named her as the National Minority Small Business Champion that year.
Battle-Bey also received academic recognition from USC where she had been a Ph.D . candidate. She served on the Advisory Council for the School of Policy, Planning and Development. Active in a variety of organizations, Battle-Bey was a member and/or served on the Board of the National Congress for Community Economic Development, Association of Women Business Entrepreneurs, the Southern California Business Development Center, a multi-bank CDC representing 30 lenders and a loan fund of $35 million; the California Economic Development Lending Initiative (CEDLI), and the California Organized Investment Network (COIN), which was co-founded by VSEDC.
“Marva Smith Battle-Bey was one of a kind,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“She was a fighter, fearless in her work to help people get access to good-paying jobs — no matter who they were or where they lived. She transformed lives by helping people dream beyond their circumstances, turn those dreams into goals, and make those goals into progress for themselves and their community.
“Businesses thrived because of Marva’s tireless efforts to broaden opportunity in South L.A. — and under her indispensable leadership, the Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation was instrumental in rebuilding after the civil unrest of 1992. Her passing is a tremendous loss for all of Los Angeles. We must honor her memory by recommitting ourselves, every day, to our calling to make seat at the table for everyone in the city she loved.”
“No words can adequately express what Marva has meant in our lives. We are forever grateful for the opportunity to work with her,” states William A. Holland, Vice President of the VSEDC Board of Directors. “Marva left a company that only she could have built, and her spirit will forever be the foundation of VSEDC. We will honor her memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work she loved so much.”
Stated Battle-Bey’s sister Gloria Gilmore, “Our family is deeply saddened by the sudden death of our loved one. She gave so much of herself, of her time and her resources to her family and community. She had a zest for life, enjoyed the work that she did to enrich the lives of the residents of Los Angeles, and she especially loved her Los Angeles Lakers. We thank Los Angeles for embracing her. We truly will miss her warm smile, her intellect and her unselfish acts of kindness. Please continue to pray for our family.”
Services have been planned as follows: Public Viewing at Angelus Funeral Home 3875 Crenshaw Blvd., LA, CA 90008, Friday, April 15, 2016 from 3pm to 7pm; Memorial Service will be held Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 11am in the Los Angeles City Council Chambers, 200 N. Spring Street, LA, CA 90012. Parking in City Hall East. Condolences may be sent to Gloria Gilmore c/o Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation 1130 West Slauson Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90044 attention: Ms. Sarah Moore.