Valencia resident Roberta Veloz, previous Santa Clarita Valley Woman of the Year and local community activist, died recently at the age of 84.
Born in Missouri in 1936, Veloz worked as a medical technician at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena until she married Tom Veloz in 1961. The couple had two sons, David and Peter, and Veloz postponed her career to be a stay-at-home mom.
“We feel like it’s the end of an era because she was so renown in her community focus, philanthropic, heartfelt activism, and as a businesswoman, but what I remember most is that she was a down-to-earth, loving mother that really cared about her family most of all,” son Peter Veloz said. “We’re missing her as the mom we loved, not just as the community leader she was known to be.”
In 1977, Veloz and her husband purchased Aquafine Corp., a manufacturing company that Tom’s father had founded in 1949. Under her leadership, the company’s sales grew over the next decade, becoming recognized as a world leader in ultraviolet water disinfection.
“One of the things a lot of people don’t know about Roberta is that she was an advocate for young women in the business world,” son David Veloz added. “That was always something really important to her.”
As a leader in the business community, Veloz advocated for women like herself, helping many to navigate the difficult path of working in a male-dominated workforce.
“She was perhaps the most honest person I’ve ever met. She didn’t put up any pretenses and was very straightforward,” David added. “She worked hard and expected everyone around her to do the same.”
“Roberta was an amazing woman who was instrumental in my growth as a leader,” College of the Canyons Chancellor Dianne G. Van Hook added via email. “When I first came to the Santa Clarita Valley, she was one of the few female CEOs in the community. She was an incredible role model and mentor, and I learned from her example while working with her on many initiatives, including the executive committee for the United Way.”
It was then that the Veloz family moved to Valencia, where Veloz became very active in the local nonprofit community, sitting on both the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Health Foundation’s board of directors and the hospital’s governing board, along with both the Samuel Dixon Family Health Center and Child & Family Center’s boards.
Veloz was also involved in Soroptimist International, the COC Foundation and SCV Senior Center, among other local organizations.
“She played a particularly pivotal role in the success of our University Center capital campaign through her generosity and ability to help others see the vision of what it would mean for local residents to have access to advanced degrees,” Van Hook added. “She is someone whose courage, strength and philanthropy shaped our community, and she will be greatly missed. I consider myself blessed to have counted her as a friend.”
Veloz was named the SCV Woman of the Year in 1998, followed by being awarded the COC Foundation’s Silver Spur Award in 1999.
When Tom and Roberta divorced in 1992, she acquired Aquafine, only selling the company in 2005 when she retired. That same month, Veloz made a generous donation to Henry Mayo to create a new cardiovascular lab, which bears her name.
Retirement didn’t slow her down, and Veloz continued to play an active role in a number of nonprofits until she died.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Veloz’s name to Henry Mayo, which can be made at henrymayo.com/support-henry-mayo/giving-opportunities.