A longtime community philanthropist, volunteer and influential pioneer in the development of the Santa Clarita Valley, Ed Bolden, died Wednesday. He was 94.
One of the SCV’s first Man of the Year recipients, Bolden garnered the honor in 1970 as a board president with the local chapter of the Boys & Girls Club, when it was a relatively new organization in the SCV.
“He was part of the original group of ‘founding fathers,’” said Jim Ventress, former longtime CEO for the Boys & Girls Club, noting it was a boys club at the time, and Bolden “really got that board going.”
Bolden was a role model for Ventress when the CEO first joined the organization in the 1980s, as both were Black men in a predominantly white community, Ventress said. Bolden imparted lessons on him about leading by example, the importance of following up and just being kind, he added.
But the children’s nonprofit was only one of many efforts Bolden engaged in to help others, including Rotary, according to those who knew him well.
He also preceded Gloria Mercado-Fortine as president of the governing board for Samuel Dixon Family Health Centers. She called Bolden a dear mentor in a phone interview Thursday.
“He was involved at the beginning with Samuel Dixon Family Health Centers,” Mercado-Fortine said, crediting Bolden with helping the nonprofit, low-cost clinics expand to three locations that serve those in need.
“And if you knew Ed, he was passionate about helping those in need,” she added.
The founder of Andel Engineering, Bolden was welcomed to the SCV in the 1960s by another well-known philanthropist and former Man of the Year, Harry Bell, according to Dick Smykle, who was a friend to both.
“He was a tremendous person who was very much involved with the community,” Smykle said in a phone interview Thursday. Bell was partners with Bolden when the SCV was still a young community, he said, and Bolden was welcomed because he was “a good person and a good engineer.”
Bolden was also involved with supporting his local church in Newhall and started the Santa Clarita Breakfast Club, Smykle said.
Steve Corn of Newhall Escrow, also a longtime Rotarian, said Bolden set the example for how new members of the local service organization should act.
“We relied on Ed for his wisdom and his definition of what a Rotarian is supposed to look like in our society and in our businesses,” he said.
Corn also noted that Bolden’s signature could be found on many of the early property maps for the SCV’s modern developments, because he was a “pioneer” in that respect, who used his skills to delineate many of the early borders, boundaries and property lines that are still recognized today.
“Our moniker of service above self is what Ed displayed every day in his business, philanthropic and personal lives,” he added.
Former Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar shared Thursday how he was saddened to hear of Bolden’s passing.
“He has been just an incredible member of this community in so many ways,” said Kellar, a sentiment also shared by another friend of Bolden’s, Greg Nutter.
“He was one of the greatest guys I know, he was just a beautiful soul,” Nutter said. “He did everything he could for other people.”
Funeral arrangements have not yet been made for Bolden, but those who would like to pay their respects can check with Eternal Valley, according to the family.