Beloved GBRA member Sonny Sardo has passed
Sebastian “Sonny” Sardo passed last week. His wife and son wanted to assure all his friends that he passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loving family, and free from pain.
Sonny Sardo was an esteemed and cherished member of the Glendale Burbank Republican Assembly (GBRA) for many years, having served as President multiple times. From 2018 until his illness, he diligently contributed as a Director on the GBRA Board, actively supporting the club’s operations and objectives.
Even amid his battle with illness in 2022, Sonny’s dedication remained unwavering. He took the initiative to arrange and introduce our main speaker, Dennis Prager, at the annual BBQ held at the Jeffers Estate in La Canada Flintridge.
A true hero, Sonny served in the Vietnam War and received honors such as the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Despite his remarkable achievements, he remained a humble individual, leaving behind an inspirational legacy for his fellow GBRA board members and all who had the privilege of knowing him.
Sonny’s infectious smiles and all-American can-do spirit brightened every room he entered. His optimism and ability to find positivity in every challenge were exemplary, and he had a remarkable talent for focusing on solutions rather than dwelling on problems.
As we mourn Sonny’s departure, we take comfort in knowing that GBRA’s “Piano Man” whose melodies once delighted us at our monthly meetings will forever play in our hearts.
May he rest in peace.
Lois Lee Brand Billings, President
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the Glory of the Lord is risen
– Isaiah 60:1
Most of you have learned that our longtime friend, colleague and fellow patriot, Sonny Sardo, died a week ago this evening, Tuesday, July 25th. He had been admitted to Glendale Adventist Medical Center, surrounded at his bedside by two dozen family members. It was only recently that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Sonny was born in Boston on June 14, 1949 – most appropriate for him on Flag Day. He was one of 17 siblings. If his father or mother joined in, they could have mustered two baseball teams.
Because his mother (Madeline) was active in Glendale’s civic and community matters along with my “second parents” Dr. Otto and Anabel Neufeld, I met and became friends with Sonny in late 1971. After being seriously wounded in combat in the Vietnam War in 1970, he had returned after recovery to his hometown. He completed studies at Glendale Community College and then opened Sardo Interior Services.
While he rarely talked about his injuries, leaving part of a leg behind in the war didn’t stop Sonny … it didn’t even slow him down. His business grew and prospered for the next 47 years.
At its annual summer fund-raiser a few years ago at the University Club in Pasadena, the Glendale/Burbank Republican Assembly surprised Sonny with an Army field cap, bestowed with the decorations he earned.
GBRA’s president, Lois Lee Bland Billings, said at the time: “we honor and present this U.S. Army cap to our club’s former president– longtime, ardent and committed member–Sonny Sardo. On it are the ribbons and decorations reflecting those awards which Sonny earned during the Vietnam War.”
Note that Lois correctly used the term “earned” not merely “awarded”. They were the National Defense Ribbon, Vietnam Service Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
Two prominent Republican leaders sent me their comments just two days ago.
From Patrick Nolan, the former Republican Assembly Leader:
“Sonny Sardo was a dedicated patriot, businessman, musician and most important, a good friend. Sonny and his brothers donated their time and talents on so many occasions for Republican groups and at many of my campaign events.
It was always a joy to see Sonny and Deenie, his mom and his brothers. They are such a great family. As my mom would say “salt of the Earth.” I’m saddened at Sonny’s passing, but the great consolation of our faith is that we look forward to being reunited in Heaven. Rest in peace, dear brother.”
From Mike Antonovich, our former L.A. County Supervisor:
“Decades ago I was honored to appoint Sonny as a member of the L.A. County Military and Veterans Affairs Commission. As he did for our country and community,Sonny served our county with diligence and determination. His sacrifice as a combat veteran in the Vietnam War was followed not only by his success as a business owner but by his devotion to our nation, our Constitution and our country’s Judeo-Christian values. He was a good friend and a good man. Our loss is Heaven’s gain.”
We all enjoyed Sonny’s playing piano at our GBRA meetings. But most will not know he and I were part of the Kiwanis Club of Glendale’s Men’s Chorus in the 1980s. The 30 or so performed at other service clubs, schools and retirement homes. Chorus members were of varying ability and talent, and Sonny would jokingly assert “our singing is better than it sounds.”
Sonny and my friendship spanned more than a half century. I was involved in three of his political campaigns – one for Glendale City Council and two for the House of Representatives. He was a splendid, articulate and principled candidate yet was never elected. In his last race for Congress, I reminded him of Adlai Stevenson’s words in his loss to Eisenhower in 1956: “the people have spoken–damn them!”
Sonny leaves Deenie, his wife of 42 years; four children: Sergio, Michelle, Davin and Hans; fifteen grandchildren–and a host of brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews, nieces, thousands of clients and customers and an array of hundreds if not thousands of friends.
Sonny and I both shared service in the United States Army–mine assuredly neither as heroic nor distinguished as his. While grief-stricken as I am, there is comfort and satisfaction that Sonny has been permanently transferred–and promoted!
Sebastian “Sonny” Sardo: requiescat in pace
– Allen E. Brandstater
August 1, 2023
Your memories of him are welcome in the comments.
The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
For if to others, indeed, they seem punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their judgment they shall shine
and dart about as sparks through stubble;
They shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the LORD shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with the elect.