All Things Arnerich

Photo by Dennis Evanosky - Left to right: Norma Arnerich, Mayor Marie Gilmore and the man of the hour, Lil Arnerich

All Things Arnerich

City hall recognizes tireless efforts of once vice-mayor, perennial volunteer 

The city of Alameda teamed up with the Arnerich family to surprise the family patriarch, Lil Arnerich, at the July 1 City Council meeting. His children, grandchildren and great grandchildren turned out to witness Mayor Marie Gilmore read a proclamation that declared the week of June 29 to July 5 “Lil Arnerich Week.” Lil’s wife, Norma, expressed her delight that she was able to get Lil to the council chambers without his knowing about the proclamation. She stood by his side at the dais as Gilmore read the city’s decree.

An Oakland native, Arnerich attended McClymonds High School. Casey Stengel, who later went on to coach the New York Yankees to greatness, signed young Lil to the Oakland Oaks in 1948. Two years later Lil began working for the Park and Recreation Department here in Alameda. He stayed on the job for 36 years, “retiring” in 1986. 

In 1988 Lil was appointed to the City Council. The following year he won a seat in his own right, landing the title of vice-mayor in the bargain. He served the city as its vice-mayor until 1991 and remained on the City Council until 1996. 

“Lil Arnerich spearheaded a number of initiatives including an ordinance to limit public comment at City Council meetings to a reasonable time of three minutes or less,” Gilmore read. She evoked laughter from all present when she injected that she was grateful to Lil for that time limit. 

Lil also backed an amendment to the City Charter that forbids the city from selling recreational lands, which include parks, golf courses and other open spaces without a vote of the people. 
The city will best remember Lil, however, for his contributions to Alameda’s youth. To thank him for this and his other accomplishments the city renamed the Upper Washington Park Baseball Field to Arnerich Field.

In his remarks following Gilmore’s reading of the proclamation, Lil reminded the audience that he vetoed naming the field “Lil Arnerich Field,” insisting that it be named “Arnerich Field” for his family. 
Lil and Norma have been together for more than 70 years, and Lil reminded everyone present that he took issue with the saying “Behind every great man stands a woman.”

“Norma has never been behind me, but always at my side,” he said. He then turned to the audience and asked the members of his family to stand up. The council chambers burst into laughter as nearly half the audience rose to their feet. The rest of the room rose and gave Lil, Norma and their family a resounding round of applause. 

The Arnerich clan then filed out, creating a momentary deafening silence in the chambers. Gilmore then took up the city’s business, something that Lil has dedicated his life to.