Former Santa Clarita Mayor Clyde Smyth suffered a devastating stroke early Saturday morning and is at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital. His son, Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, said that his father is resting peacefully, for which he and his family are grateful.
“We’re just taking it day by day,” he explained. “My mom, brother and I have been uplifted by the number of calls and texts and emails from people who have known my dad for years and from our own friends offering their support.”
Smyth was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2007 and has been officially retired since 2008, when he left a consulting position with Congressman Buck McKeon’s office. The former mayor was a liaison for high school students who wanted to go to service academies after graduation.
Along with being the family patriarch, Smyth also led the William S. Hart High School District for nearly two decades before his retirement. He was also involved with several local charities and youth groups. Of all the things his father accomplished, Cameron feels his time with the Hart District might have been the most influential.
“I think my dad always administered the school district under the principle of wanting to give Santa Clarita kids a private school education in a public school setting,” he said. “He really strived to do that and I think if you ask families that have moved to Santa Clarita over the past 30 years for the number one reason why, most of them would say the school system. I think that is a lasting tribute to his philosophy and the standard he set for his successors to follow and to maintain that level.”
Clyde Smyth set a good example for his young sons, as both he and wife Sue were active in the community.
“I think he instilled in both my brother and I the importance of service, which is reflected in the career path both of us have chosen,” Cameron said. “My brother is a Colonel in the Air Force and I chose a career of service as well (he is on his third term in the California Assembly) and I think it’s not by accident.
“Many times at the dinner table, my dad preached the importance of giving back and sometimes we would miss him when he was gone at meetings and events. But then, as you get older, you realize that he was doing that to make the community we live in a better place, not just for us, but for everybody,” he continued. “He also taught me about respecting someone for who they are, regardless of their station in life. My dad was brought up during the depression era; he was born very humbly and he always kept that with him.
“He made sure whenever my brother or I stepped out of line not showing respect to people, he was quick to remind us that just because someone might be struggling at times, it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve our respect regardless of what they do.”
Twenty years ago, Smyth was named “Santa Clarita Valley Man of the Year” for his many achievements.
A native of Pasadena, Hamilton Clyde Smyth served in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict, received a doctorate in Education from Brigham Young University and worked in the Pasadena School district in the ’50s and ’60s, before becoming principal of Placerita Junior High School in 1969. Five years later, he was named Superintendent of the William S. Hart High School District, where he worked for 18 years.
He and Sue moved to Newhall in 1971, where they settled to raise their two sons. Sue became a teacher with the Newhall School District and the family became involved in the community. Over the years, Smyth was active with the Santa Clarita Valley Rotary Club, the Boy Scouts of America and the boards of Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital and the SCV Boys and Girls Club, where his philanthropic leadership helped both charities grow significantly.
Smyth earned a unique nickname, “Landslide Clyde” when he won a seat on the Santa Clarita City Council in 1994 by only 16 votes. It was the first election in city history where votes were recounted. He went on to serve as the city’s Mayor in 1997. Cameron followed his father into the political foray, joining the City Council in 2000 and served two terms as mayor before being elected to the Assembly in 2006.
“I went to Clyde early in the history of the city and asked him to run for council, but he told me he didn’t think it was the right time,” said former Santa Clarita Mayor Carl Boyer. “When he decided to run later, I was extremely happy. He’s just one of those people that was there for the community and never had an agenda. He was the ideal city council person.”
After his retirement from the school district, Smyth continued his legacy of public service, volunteering for the Boys and Girls Club and working with fellow Rotarians on community projects. He became a special consultant to Congressman Buck McKeon, shepherding young men and women on the path to service academies such as West Point, Annapolis, the Air Force and Marine Corps. He served in that capacity until 2008.
For now, the family is taking things day by day.
“Any good thoughts and wishes are appreciated and felt,” the younger Smyth said.
Messages may be sent to the Assemblyman’s local office at 23734 Valencia Boulevard, Suite 303, Santa Clarita 91355 or emailed to arc.asm.ca.gov/member/38/.