My Friend Dean

My Friend Dean


Eight years ago, I joined my first volunteer committee at the Apartment Association of Orange County and after proving myself to my colleagues, I became a board member. Having grown up in the apartment business and around our association, I can remember being a kid in my 20s around some of the best and brightest in our industry. Joining the board was no exception. Politics has always been an interest of mine and there was certainly no shortage of legislative issues facing our industry at the local, state or national levels. But in getting to know my fellow directors, I formed friendships and bonds that are bigger than our industry and any legislative fights that we would face.

As a Greek American, I was amused that there was another Greek American on the board and he happened to be a Past President and the current Chair of our Legislative Committee – Dean Zarkos. Always one of the most informed in the board room and always aware of the association’s current financial position (think to the minute, not the month). Always prepared with questions that seemed to be two, three or four thoughts down the line in process. I can remember thinking, “wow, this Zarkos guy is intense”. And so when we got into our first heated discussion about the direction of the association, I was impressed that I held my own ground. But I was even more impressed by the telephone call that I got the next day from Dean. He was calling to apologize and to thank me for my input and efforts on behalf of AAOC.

But more than being a fellow Dodger fan, sports fan, Greek, politico or comedian, Dean became a friend and mentor. Someone I could and did call with issues or concerns, even as his battle with ALS (he was diagnosed in 2011) progressed. He was always happy to help and try to point me in the right direction. Often times, he would send emails, place telephone calls or send text messages to me and my colleagues with ideas or suggestions as to how we should handle a situation. Had we called everyone? Had we engaged a lobbyist? Are we sending out emails and letters to our members? AAOC legend has it that Dean is one of only two Legislative Committee members to get thrown out of City Meeting for out-negotiating the City staff on an issue (mums the word on the remaining member of this group). This was an honor that Dean was quite proud of.

Whether we were in DC, Sacramento or Orange County, Dean was always there in spirit, although of late he wasn’t able to physically be present. On several occasions, I can recall receiving great insight via text message, followed by great humor. And that’s just the man Dean was. In December, Dean received the Excellence in Advocacy award on behalf of the association and a handful of us, including Valerie, Lou Vicki Binford, Ray Maggi, Nick Lieberman and Tom Cummings were able to visit with Dean in person to present him with this award on December 30th, just two days before he passed away (see picture).

This is an election year and there are already a number of bad bills in the State Senate and Assembly. We will really need your help from above. Thank you for everything you’ve done for our industry and our association. Orange County is a better place because of people like you! Rest in peace, my friend.

If you are interested in helping the Zarkos family with some of their expenses, please visit their YouCaring page by clicking here.