Carol Berman Fondiller, a longtime Venice resident and writer who was a founder of the Free Venice Beachhead newspaper more than 40 years ago and was a strong advocate for affordable housing, has died. She was 73.
Fondiller died at her Venice home January 9th after battling a long illness, friends said.
“Venice has lost a great person who was passionate, compassionate, committed, kind and determined,” said Venice Neighborhood Council Vice President Linda Lucks, a friend of Fondiller’s since the early 1970s.
“She was a trained actor, a poet, a superb writer and political activist on tenants’ rights issues, and she spent a lifetime in Venice fighting loud noise on the boardwalk.”
Friends note that Fondiller, who used a variety of names in her writing, was a talented writer who integrated her sense of humor in her work.
“She had a humor that just would not quit and she was very original in her thinking,” friend and Venice artist Emily Winters said.
Fondiller came to Venice in the early 1960s and spent time at the former Venice West Café, where she met John Haag, Stuart Perkoff and other “Beat” poets, said friend Jim Smith of the Beachhead. She became an activist in the Free Venice movement, including with the Venice Survival Committee and the Free Venice Theater Group, which performed plays at the Venice Pavilion, Smith said. Fondiller was a founder of the Peace and Freedom Party in California, her longtime friend Maryjane said.
In 1968 she helped found the Beachhead, and she remained involved with the publication more than anyone else over the years, Smith said.
Those who knew Fondiller spoke of her dedication to low-income housing in the community.
“She worked to support human and civil rights and housing needs,” Maryjane said.
Lucks added, “She was hyper-sensitive to the world around her and particularly aware of injustices to people in need. She felt the pain of the world more than most and reacted.”
Fondiller served as a board member of the Coalition for Economic Survival, as well as on a Housing and Urban Development Department committee for low-income housing for several years.
On her 71st birthday in 2007, Fondiller was given the title of “Queen of Venice” by her friends.
Fondiller is survived by a half-sister in Georgia and many friends.
A memorial service in Venice is being planned.