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City of Santa Clarita founder Carl Boyer dies at 81

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Former Santa Clarita Mayor Carl Boyer III died Wednesday morning at the age of 81.

Boyer, who was a founding father of the city of Santa Clarita and a member of the very first Santa Clarita City Council, had been in declining health and was recently in hospice in Newhall.

“He was a leader in the community for a long time,” said former mayor and Rep. Howard “Buck” Mckeon, who served on the first council with Boyer. “He participated in an effort for the area to become its own county, then for the city. The very first meeting (of the City Council) he presented, and we passed, protection for the oak trees in the valley. He was a good man and loved the community.”

When Boyer and his wife, Chris, moved to Santa Clarita in the 1960s to raise their family, they realized immediately the need to get more response from Los Angeles County’s officials when it came to issues affecting the community.

Although his push for the SCV to form its own county did not succeed, he switched gears to instead create a push toward cityhood and became the first chairman of the city of Santa Clarita Formation Committee in 1986.

Boyer continued on that path until Santa Clarita’s incorporation as a city on Dec. 15, 1987, and then served on the council, including two terms as mayor before retiring in 1998.

“Carl was the historian in the group of the first five,” said former Councilman Dennis Koontz. “He cared deeply about what the people needed and was willing to listen to all sides. He will be missed.”

After retirement, Boyer then decided to document Santa Clarita’s journey to cityhood in a book titled “Santa Clarita: The Formation and Organization of the Largest Newly Incorporated City in the History of Humankind,” which was published in 2005.

First City Council of the City of Santa Clarita. From left: Mayor Howard “Buck” McKeon, Mayor Pro-Tem Jan Heidt, and Council members Dennis Koontz, Jo Anne Darcy and Carl Boyer. Courtesy of

“Our father is the best man we’ve ever known,” said Michèle, Denise and Danielle, Boyer’s three daughters, in a joint statement Wednesday afternoon. “He has been steadfast in all of his endeavors and has never wavered. His life goal was simple and profound: He wanted to be a useful member of society. There is no better role model than our father, Carl Boyer.”

Boyer taught for 40 years in public schools in Texas, Kentucky, Ohio and California, including 35 years at San Fernando High School from 1963 to 1998.

He also served as a member of the board of trustees of the Santa Clarita Community College District from 1973 to 1981 and as a director of the former Castaic Lake Water Agency from 1982 to 1984.

Aside from his work with the city, Danielle and Denise said their parents were very active in caring for foster children.

“He and my mom were foster parents for medical babies that came to the U.S. for life-saving treatment through an organization called Healing the Children for many years,” Denise Johnson said. “They continued that work with the County of L.A. for children who were abused because of their medical training through their experience with children who were born with life-threatening illnesses.”

Since his retirement, Boyer continued to get Santa Clarita involved around the world, especially with Santa Clarita’s sister cities, visiting more than 140 countries over the years.

“Most recently, my dad was still involved with sister city organizations, in particular a school in India that was a sister city created when he was on the council,” Denise said.

“Carl Boyer had a heart of gold,” said former city manager Ken Pulskamp. “I had the opportunity to work with him when he was first on the council, and he always put the community first and foremost in front of every decision he made. I also had the opportunity to travel with him to Ecuador and watch him reach out to individuals in need. He was such a role model for trying to help the underdog and people in need. Clearly the city of Santa Clarita is a much better place because of Carl Boyer — what a wonderful legacy he has left behind.”

Boyer was also a noted genealogist, and authored more than a dozen books on family genealogy.

“I worked with Carl when he appointed me as park commissioner when he got elected (to the council),” said Councilwoman Laurene Weste. “I got to know Carl as a person. He studied history, was tremendously motivated and was just the most incredibly dedicated man. He wanted our valley to be preserved and be the great place that it is and was always working on some wonderful thing for the city. He worked very hard to create Santa Clarita Woodlands Park and was always supportive of creating the trail system and open space. We’ve lost a great man.”

Memorial services are in the planning stages for the weekend of June 22.

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