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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Kirkland Transformed L.A. as a Host City

June 19, 2003

Your June 12 obituary of L.A. Inc. President George Kirkland understated the impact that the late Convention and Visitors Bureau chief had on our city. As the man entrusted with the stewardship of this city's hospitality industry, Kirkland transformed the Los Angeles landscape, bringing our industry into common public discourse and weaving such separate elements as LAX, Staples Center and must-see visitor destinations into an infrastructure capable of hosting major events on the world stage with great distinction. Southern California enjoys a world-class reputation for bringing style to hospitality, as demonstrated by the great successes of the Democratic Convention, the World Cup and Super Bowl XXVII. Much of that reputation is owed to Kirkland's efforts.

Sadly, many of the most difficult challenges confronting Kirkland and L.A. Inc. are not fully understood by the business community and many officials. The complexity of the problems Kirkland faced as he sought to build and manage a hospitality infrastructure for this city was daunting. Even in the final year of his life, he insisted on soldiering on, supporting his colleagues and pushing our shared agenda forward. Kirkland faced the greatest adversity of his professional life at the very time that he was diagnosed with the terminal illness that took his life -- never once complaining to any of us in the face of his own personal and painful struggle. In the memory of those who knew him, worked with him and were the beneficiaries of his wisdom and encouragement, George Kirkland stands alone as a giant in our community.

Larry Kurzweil

President, Universal Studios Hollywood

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