PICO RIVERA – He helped found the city of Pico Rivera, worked as a baker, a union organizer and a banker and – rarer still – managed to maintain strong friendships even after a 15-year career in local politics. Not surprisingly, those friends Thursday remembered former Pico Rivera Mayor and City Councilman Gil De La Rosa most for his quick wit and supportive nature. “He had the best sharp comebacks of anyone I know. He often said he would die with a smile on his face,” said former Councilman Pete Ramirez. De La Rosa died of cancer Saturday at his Pico Rivera home. He was 80. After furthering his education at East Los Angeles College, Chaffey College and Cal State Los Angeles, De La Rosa went on to have a varied professional career. He worked as a baker and was active in the Bakers and Confectionery Workers Union during the late 1940s and 1950s. In 1959, he became a loan officer for a public finance corporation, beginning a 27-year career in the banking and finance industry. De La Rosa became a probate referee for the state in 1988. In 1996, he switched to real estate, a profession he remained in until shortly before his death. His r sum of civic service also was long and varied. De La Rosa was appointed in 1958 to the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission, where he served until 1992. In 1966, he was elected to the El Rancho Unified School District board of education. While on the school board, he was a member of the Mexican-American School Board Association, serving as its president in 1981. De La Rosa stayed on the school board until he was elected to the Pico Rivera City Council. In 1986, he served as mayor. He was also a member of the Beverly Hospital Foundation and the Pico Rivera Lions Club. De La Rosa is survived by his wife, Sylvia, and 11 children. A rosary for De La Rosa will be read at 7 p.m. today at St.Hilary’s Catholic Church in Pico Rivera. Funeral services will be at 9 a.m. Saturday at the church. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Born in El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 31, 1926, De La Rosa moved to East Los Angeles with his family before his first birthday. He attended Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights and was drafted by the U.S. Army shortly after graduating in 1944. After his discharge in 1946, De La Rosa moved to Pico Rivera and never left. He served on the incorporation committee that established the city in 1958. In 1982, he was elected to the City Council. Councilman Gregory Salcido recalled De La Rosa as one of the most “personable” people in politics. When Salcido was first elected in 1999, De La Rosa offered his help to the fledgling council member, he said. “His grace is something I’ll always remember. \ was always willing to share his knowledge and experience and was very nurturing to me. I considered him a friend,” he added.