In memory of their former colleague, Jerry Gladbach, the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency board of directors held a special ceremony on Tuesday to recognize the longtime board member’s life, accomplishments and family.
Gladbach, who died on July 13 at the age of 82, had served on local water boards for nearly four decades, and his fellow elected officials described him as a brilliant engineer devoted to public service who exhibited kindness to all those around him.
Since 2018, Gladbach represented the SCV Water Agency Division 2, a district that includes most of Saugus, as well as northeastern portions of Valencia and northern portions of Canyon Country.
The boardroom memorial, held during the first hour of their Tuesday night meeting, began with a moment of silence by all those present — a group that included SCV Water Agency directors, local leaders and/ community members, who all then took turns shedding light on the impact Gladbach had over the past 37 years.
In addition to discussing his kindness and empathy for those around him, those in attendance described Gladbach as a well-respected and tenured leader in water governance practices, both in the Santa Clarita Valley as well as around the state of California.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mr. Gladbach over the last 20-plus years and I’ve learned so much from his extensive experience as a district board member at the California Special District Association,” said Neil McCormick, CEO of the California Special District Association, or CSDA, in a statement read aloud during the meeting. “He was one of our main governance subject matter experts that helped to develop our special district leadership academy curriculum now used to train thousands of elected appointed officials from special districts.”
“I truly understand and relate when I hear the stories about how kind of a person he has always been because he was nothing but kind to me when I came on board and was learning the ropes here as a new board member,” said Director Kathye Armitage, who joined the SCV Water board of directors in 2021. “He was always very respectful to me and I will always appreciate that.”
Before the speeches began, those in attendance were asked if they would like to approach Gladbach’s boardroom chair and to place a flower where he once sat. Among those participating were a number of local leaders and/or their representatives, from the local to federal level.
“What he has done for this community and for the state in regards to water is something that we should all seek to memorialize, honor and remember,” said Mayor Pro Tem Jason Gibbs. “While there are others tonight who are far more qualified to speak to Jerry’s contributions to Santa Clarita and to this agency, I simply want to share that the Santa Clarita Valley lost a true gentleman, a dear friend and a man who was always kind and warm to the people around him.”
In January 1985, Gladbach was elected to the board of the Castaic Lake Water Agency — which later merged with the Newhall County Water District to form SCV Water in 2018 — while also becoming very active with state and national water organizations, according to the SCV Water website.
Gladbach was a member of the board of directors of the National Water Resources Association and president of the board of directors of the Association of California Water Agencies – Joint Powers Insurance Authority.
Gladbach is survived by his wife Donna, three children and six grandchildren.