Albert Vera, the patriarch of a well-respected Culver City family and a three-time city councilman, died from a heart attack earlier this month. He was 75.

His passing leaves a void in philanthropy, commerce and historical political knowledge in Culver City, a place that he called home for over five decades.

Vera, an Italian immigrant, came to the United States in 1950. He opened Sorrento Market, an iconic Italian deli and specialty store of imported goods in Culver City, in 1963.

He served three terms on the Culver City City Council from 1992 until 2000 and again from 2002 until 2006, during which he was mayor for three one-year terms.

Jewett Walker Jr., a Marina del Rey based political campaign consultant, remembered Vera for his honesty, integrity and generosity.

“It was like working for an icon,” Walker, who managed Vera’s last campaign in 2002, told The Argonaut. “He was highly respected by politicians and people from all walks of life for who he was – a very honest, down-to-earth person.”

Vera was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.

Vera used his high-profile connections with county, state and federal lawmakers to enhance the city and the region’s profile.

He was also an astute businessman, eventually becoming one of the largest olive growers and importers in the state. His Central Valley ranches also grow oranges, beets, watermelons and parsley, which he often teasingly refereed to as “Italian marijuana.”

Vera is survived by his wife Ursula, his sister Katherine Barricello, his son Albert, Jr., his granddaughter Alexandria Vera, and four nieces.