Kenneth Schonlau, a longtime Santa Monica resident and national contributor to the community social model recovery field, passed away January 22nd from acute respiratory arrest. He was 79.
Born March 22nd, 1929 in Chicago, he was the son of Geneva and Ferdinand Schonlau, an Illinois accountant.
While serving in aviation in the U.S. Navy from 1948 to 1952, Schonlau was stationed in Panama. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1957 with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering and joined Hughes Aircraft as an aeronautical engineer. At Hughes Aircraft, he was known for his uncanny ability to diagnose structural and mechanical problems in developing aircraft prototypes, friends said.
Married in 1969 to Maria Doordan, who passed away in 1987, Schonlau turned his attention to helping others in the Santa Monica community. He and his wife started Felicity House, the first recovery home for women on the Westside.
Schonlau was the founder of the CLARE Foundation Community Recovery Program and was its executive director for 17 years. He was founding president and executive director of the California Association of Recovery Homes.
The CLARE Foundation began with a group of community-minded individuals who distributed food and literature to the homeless and indigent alcoholics gathering on the beaches of Santa Monica and Venice. In 1970, the organization rented a small storefront and sleeping area on Pico Boulevard, where CLARE began providing education, resources, referrals, and a place to detox.
In 1971, the organization was joined by Dr. Jokichi Takamine, who provided public health services.
“It is impossible to calculate how many human lives Ken Schonlau has touched in a positive way,” says Takamine.
Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl added, “The CLARE Foundation stands as a living memorial that will shine for many years to come.”
Schonlau was one of the founding board members of the Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing in 1985, was founder and project director of the Sober Living Network, and was a member of the Association of Halfway House Addiction Programs.
He was also founder of the Los Angeles County Sober Living Coalition, was recent founder of the Venice Recovery Center, and served as a commissioner on the Los Angeles County Commission on Alcoholism. Schonlau served on the City of Santa Monica Housing Commission from 1984 to 1989.
Schonlau is survived by his niece, Jennifer Hennen of Elmhurst, Illinois and his nephew, Frederick Meng of Capitola.
His family said that donations, rather than flowers, may be sent to The Sober Living Network, P.O. Box 5235, Santa Monica, CA 90409.
A memorial service is scheduled from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, February 21st, at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, 1343 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica. Information, (310) 396-5270, or firstname.lastname@example.org/.