Longtime community leader Barbara Yaroslavsky, wife of former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, died Wednesday at age 71.
Barbara Edelston Yaroslavsky had been seriously ill over the last six weeks with infections after contracting West Nile virus, according to her husband’s former spokesman, Joel Bellman.
She had appeared to be on the road to a slow recovery and was discharged Wednesday from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to begin a period of recuperation and rehabilitation at another facility, Bellman said. But during a physical therapy session Wednesday morning, she suddenly collapsed, he said.
Yaroslavsky was taken by ambulance to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she died shortly after 10 a.m., according to a statement issued on behalf of her husband and children, David and Mina.
“We are shocked and devastated by this turn of events,” the statement reads. “We have lost an exceptional mother, a loving grandmother and a beloved wife and partner in life. There are no words to describe what we are feeling at this moment, but our loss is profound and the void in our lives is immeasurable.”
Yaroslavsky was a longtime volunteer and activist in the Jewish community and on behalf of various nonprofit and social service agencies involved in education and health care.
She was a past president of the Medical Board of California and at the time of her death was president of Los Angeles’ Commission on Community and Family Services, which advises the city’s leadership on issues of poverty, and the needs of children, youth and their families.
She was also a board member of Friends of the Saban Community Clinic, a member of the California Board of Registered Nursing and on the advisory board of LA’s BEST Afterschool Enrichment Program.
She married her husband in 1971, four years before he was elected to the Los Angeles City Council. She ran for the 5th District council seat that he vacated in December 1994 to become a county supervisor, but was defeated by current City Attorney Mike Feuer.
“Los Angeles lost a dedicated activist and an unwavering champion for children and families today and Amy and I lost a cherished mentor and a dear friend,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
“Barbara Yaroslavsky never stopped fighting for what she believed in. She was a model of what it meant to practice Jewish values in public life. An Angeleno born and raised, she worked every day to make our city a more fair, just, and compassionate place to work and live.
“I will miss her wisdom and leadership, and I hope it is a comfort to Zev and their children and grandchildren that so many mourn Barbara’s passing at this time. May her memory be a blessing for all of us.”
In addition to her husband, who was a Los Angeles city councilman from 1975-94 and served on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors from 1994- 2014, Yaroslavsky is survived by their children, four grandchildren, a brother and a sister.
Funeral arrangements are pending. The family requested that in lieu of flowers, contributions in her name be made to the Saban Community Clinic.