Known well in Santa Clarita Valley circles for his impassioned advocacy, deep baritone voice and support for the community he loved, longtime local fixture Allan Cameron died Saturday. He was 75.
Perhaps one of his proudest accomplishments is the annual epicurean feast he helped organize for the senior center on Thanksgiving, which grew largely as a result of the work of him and his friend Flo Lawrence, though their volunteer efforts with the Castaic Lions Club.
He was a musician, advocate and someone who cared deeply for the environment and the community he lived in for many years, according to those who knew him well.
“I think he thought globally and universally, and I think he wanted to bring people together,” said his wife, Karen Cameron, in a phone interview Thursday afternoon. She also mentioned his passion for community organizing, which came from his care for those around him and the environment.
The pair wed in 1971, and eventually moved from Los Angeles to Santa Clarita, which became Allan’s hometown and a passion project.
“He got elected to our homeowners association and he got involved in a fight with a developer who was going to develop our slopes,” Karen said, sharing an interest that also would become a career for Allan Cameron.
Cameron was also a skilled baritone and drummer who worked with R&B singer Esther Phillips, among others, she added.
While support of the SCV Senior Center was also a point of personal pride for the man, Cameron’s professional work had broad impacts on thousands of lives, also.
He was part of the original group that helped Santa Clarita gain autonomy from Los Angeles County in the late 1980s, when Santa Clarita attained cityhood.
A few years later, he joined with the city in its fight against Cemex, an international mining conglomerate that sought to extract about 56 million tons of rock from the east side of the SCV in Soledad Canyon, which would fundamentally alter the landscape of the city.
“We met him over the Cemex issue, I guess it was early- to mid-1999,” said Andy Fried, who named Cameron as one of the co-founders of Safe Action For the Environment, or SAFE, which was the first group to register formal opposition to Soledad Canyon mining. Fried, the president of SAFE, credited Cameron with raising awareness of the potential challenges the city has since spent millions to fight on behalf of its residents.
“Allan is the person who actually brought this issue to the attention of the Santa Clarita City Council,” Fried noted. “He got them to add it to an action item (on the city’s agenda) … And that’s really what kicked off the whole thing.”
Cameron also sought to rally residents on behalf of local water users when many felt that the state’s agricultural interests were forcing the SCV Sanitation District to pay an unfair share for the cost of desalinating the water that heads downstream to Ventura County for salt-sensitive strawberry and avocado crops.
“He fought for peace on Earth and he was a great lover of the environment and all living beings,” Karen Cameron said. “He had a special place in his heart for dogs and he loved music. He was a community organizer and he worked tirelessly on behalf of Santa Clarita.”
A virtual celebration of life is being organized for next week. Contact KarenC@Alaska.net for more information.