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Robert G. Beverly dies at 84; Republican in California Legislature for nearly 30 years

The lawmaker may be best known for consumer-protection laws that led to the state's lemon laws. He said one of his most effective measures was a 'rob-a-home, go-to-jail' bill.

October 17, 2009|Valerie J. Nelson

Robert G. Beverly, a Republican who served in the state Legislature for nearly 30 years and may be best known for consumer-protection legislation that led to California's lemon laws, has died. He was 84.

Beverly, who also was a lawyer, died Wednesday of complications related to Parkinson's disease at his home in Manhattan Beach, said his son William.

Beginning in 1967, Beverly represented the South Bay in the Assembly. Nine years later, he jumped to the Senate to represent the 27th District, which eventually stretched from Rolling Hills to Downey. Term limits forced him to retire in 1996.

Former Gov. George Deukmejian, who was a close friend, called the moderate Republican "a very effective legislator."

"He worked very well with his colleagues, whether they were Republicans or Democrats," Deukmejian told The Times on Friday. "And he was mainly focused on trying to reach agreements on resolving an issue rather than just simply staking out a position that he wasn't going to change."

One of Beverly's most effective measures was a "rob-a-home, go-to-jail" bill, signed into law in 1980, that was designed to ensure jail time for those convicted of residential burglary, he told The Times in 1992.

The Song-Beverly Acts, which date to 1970, have served as models in the field of consumer protection. One of these evolved into the state lemon law that protects owners of problem cars.

As a lawmaker, Beverly's interests included such local projects as securing funds to repair the Manhattan Beach Pier and revising California's business code. He also resisted legislation that would erode the control of local governments.

"He liked solving problems," his son said. "He was never a demagogue of any kind. He was just very level-headed and even-tempered."

An only child, Robert Graham Beverly was born July 1, 1925, in Belmont, Mass., to William Beverly and his wife, the former Helen Graham. His father, who was in the insurance business, died when his son was a teenager.

Reared mainly near Boston and then Pittsburgh, Beverly met his future wife in high school. He followed her to Los Angeles in 1946 -- the year they were married -- after serving in the Marine Corps, mainly on the East Coast.

After attending UCLA, he earned a law degree at Loyola Marymount University in the early 1950s, when he also moved to Manhattan Beach. He soon started practicing law.

In 1958, Beverly launched his political career, winning a seat on the Manhattan Beach City Council. He served for nine years, including three terms as mayor, then ran for state office.

A 1980 law that allowed diners to take home an unfinished bottle of wine from a restaurant was a favorite among the many he worked on, Beverly told The Times in 1996.

While explaining how difficult it was to get then-Gov. Jerry Brown to sign it, Beverly revealed the wit that had helped him in Sacramento: "We finally persuaded him it was a temperance measure. Rather than drink it, you took it with you."

In addition to his son William, Beverly is survived by his wife, Bettelu; two other sons, Robert Jr. and Brian; a daughter, Barbara; 10 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Oct. 24 at American Martyrs Catholic Church, 624 15th St., Manhattan Beach.


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