One of Santa Clarita’s original City Council members and someone who helped lead the effort for the city’s creation, Jan Heidt, died Monday, according to her husband. She was 84.
Her husband, Jerry Heidt, as well as friends and colleagues described the Saginaw, Michigan, native as someone who worked tirelessly on behalf of Santa Clarita residents before there was even a Santa Clarita.
Jan Heidt was part of an effort that tried to form “Canyon County” in the 1970s, and when that fell short, played important roles in the fight against two landfills in the area, according to Councilwoman Laurene Weste, who served on the dais with Heidt from 1998 to 2000.
“She was a big advocate in helping to create the city,” Weste said in a phone interview Monday, adding that Heidt’s work in transportation advocacy is one of the reasons why the Newhall Metrolink station bears her name. “She was also very involved in getting the three Metrolink stations in Santa Clarita.”
Her husband said his wife, who served in the women’s Navy Reserves, the WAVES as it was then known, earned the rank of lieutenant. She was working for the organization as a recruiter when they met at a real estate event where he also was working.
The recruitment worked, he joked, because he called the local Navy office to find out more information about who they’d sent to the event he was at, and the rest is history. The pair married in October 1968 and remained so until Jan’s death.
Jan and Jerry moved to the San Fernando Valley and then in the 1970s to the Santa Clarita Valley.
“She was very active in the community, and she loved it out there,” Jerry Heidt said from their Point Loma home in San Diego during a phone interview Tuesday.
He said it was very difficult for them to leave, but ultimately did so to be closer to family that had moved away. However, she still drove back once a month to stay active in the book club in Santa Clarita she’d been a part of for more than 30 years.
“I just thought she was one of the smartest women I have ever known,” said her longtime friend Lynn Parkinson, who also was in her book club. At the time the two met, they were parents whose children participated in 4-H in Sand Canyon at Sulphur Springs Elementary and then Canyon High schools. Heidt also was involved in the local parent-teacher organization.
“She cared so much about the city,” Parkinson said, adding she felt like she slept better at night knowing someone like Heidt was on the Santa Clarita City Council.
Heidt was elected to the first council upon the city’s formation in December 1987, and served three four-year terms.
Weste also mentioned how Heidt was a voracious reader who ran a bookstore on Apple Street off Lyons Avenue in Newhall — called One for the Books — and would frequently share recommendations for books she’d just read.
“She had an amazing mind when it came to history and understanding complicated things,” Weste added.
The fights against what would have been a toxic dump at the current site of Vista Canyon in 1978, and then another fight later against a proposed landfill in Elsmere Canyon, remain an important part of her contribution to the area, Weste added. Weste said she planned to call for adjournment in Heidt’s honor and say a few words at the next meeting.
Jerry Heidt said memorial information was not yet available but would be announced once it is. She is survived by: her husband, Jerry; their son, Matthew; their daughter, Robin; and four grandchildren, Anna, Ariel, Anika and Detrik.