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Services Friday for Longtime Tenant Activist

By Teresa Rochester

Nov. 8 -- An evening prayer service for Annette Del Zoppo, who for years lobbied for the rights of Santa Monica tenants, will be held Friday at 7:30 p.m. St. Anne's Catholic Church. Del Zoppo, 65, died Friday at Saint John's Medical Center with her husband Jim Simmons and a few close family members at her side.

An audiovisual producer, who in partnership with her husband produced presentations for a wide number of companies, Del Zoppo also was a tireless advocate for Santa Monica's renters and a member of Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights steering committee.

Del Zoppo was hospitalized on Saturday, Oct. 27 for what appeared to be complicated flu symptoms. On Tuesday she was diagnosed with extremely advanced lung cancer. She died peacefully.

Petite and unassuming, Del Zoppo took the podium at many City Council and Rent Control Board meetings armed with slide presentations and poignant stories of the plights of renters mistreated by their landlords. She answered the phone calls of worried of tenants who called SMRR's renter's hotline, dispensing advice and consolation

"Annette was like a tenant's advocate angel," Denise McGranahan of the Santa Monica office of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles wrote in an email. "She worked at our Santa Monica's night clinic every week. She volunteered at court watch every week. Annette worked with a number of our clients to assure that they would get to us."

During the last two municipal elections Del Zoppo worked from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. as a volunteer coordinator for SMRR in its campaign to defeat a living wage proposition sponsored by businesses and to elect the organization's slate of candidates.

Del Zoppo also served as a liaison between the Latino community and Legal Aid at St. Anne's Church and worked with Legal Aid attorney Susan Millman during divorce trials, driving disabled clients to hearings and helping them gather necessary evidence.

Del Zoppo's professional life encompassed a range of working as an infant extra in the film industry to owning a vintage clothing store to producing graphics for the Dinah Shore Show and working as the Director of Photography for of Environmental Design for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Born Jan. 4, 1936 in Hollywood, CA, Del Zoppo studied architecture at USC and later transferred to UCLA to study filmmaking.

During the 1960's Del Zoppo worked for designers Charles and Ray Eames, while simultaneously photographing the work of architect Paolo Soleri and later opening the country's first vintage clothing store Ephemera, with her partner Parke Meek.

The store's collection provided the wardrobe for the band Sweetwater, which was headed by Del Zoppo's brother and played at Woodstock.

Del Zoppo also photographed the performances of the major rock bands of the 1960's as a photographer for Countdown Magazine.

In the early 1970's she founded Annette Del Zoppo Productions, which produced film and multi-image productions for architecture and design firms, museums, hospitals and commercial developers.

In more recent years Del Zoppo dedicated herself to activism.

"Annette was one of the most selfless persons we have ever met," wrote McGranahan of Legal Aid. "We loved her and will miss her dearly. We will also miss her wonderful snacks at meetings. She never forgot a birthday or a special occasion."

St. Anne's Church, the location of Friday's prayer service, is located at the corner of Colorado Avenue and 20th Street in Santa Monica. There will be an opportunity for people to speak at the service.

Funeral and burial services will be at Forest Lawn in Hollywood Hills at the Old North Church, on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 12:30 p.m. Forest Lawn Drive is an exit off the 134 Freeway near Griffith Park. A reception will follow the burial services at St. Anne's Catholic Church.

The family requests no flowers, but for those so inclined, a contribution to Del Zoppo's favorite causes would be appreciated. They include the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, St. Anne's Church, Sojourn, the American Cancer Society and Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights.
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