Former Mayor Carl Boyer III, teacher, genealogist, historian, author, philanthropist and City of Santa Clarita founding father, died Wednesday morning surrounded by his family. He was 81.
Boyer had been in declining health and most recently was in hospice in Saugus, not far from his residence in Newhall.
“Our father is the best man we’ve ever known,” Boyer’s three daughters, Michèle, Denise and Danielle, said in a joint statement Wednesday afternoon. “He has been steadfast in all of his endeavors and has never wavered. His life goal was simple and profound: He wanted to be a useful member of society. There is no better role model than our father, Carl Boyer.”
A memorial celebration will take place at the Valencia United Methodist Church on Saturday, June 22, at 3 p.m. The church is located at 25718 McBean Parkway, Valencia 91355.
In lieu of flowers, the family encourages support for Project Chacocente, a charity in Nicaragua that he and his wife Chris supported for many years. Project Chacocente: P.O. Box 128, Lexington, MA 02420, or online at www.outofthedump.org.
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Carl and Chris Boyer moved to the Santa Clarita Valley in 1966 to raise their family but soon concluded that Los Angeles County politicians in faraway downtown L.A. were less than responsive when it came to issues affecting the SCV.
By decade’s end, he was pushing his SCV neighbors to break away from L.A. County by forming a new county whose leaders would be more local. The bid to form Canyon County in 1976 and again in 1978 won voter approval within the Santa Clarita Valley but needed the support of voters across the county, which didn’t come.
First City Council of the City of Santa Clarita. From left: Mayor Howard “Buck” McKeon, Mayor Pro-Tem Jan Heidt, and Councilmembers Dennis Koontz, Jo Anne Darcy and Carl Boyer.
Undaunted, Boyer pushed for cityhood instead and became the first chairman of the City of Santa Clarita Formation Committee in late 1986. He guided the process that resulted in Santa Clarita’s incorporation as a city on December 15, 1987, won a seat on the first Santa Clarita City Council, and served two terms as mayor in 1991 and 1996 before he retired from office in 1998.
Boyer documented the route to cityhood in his acclaimed book, “Santa Clarita: The Formation and Organization of the Largest Newly Incorporated City in the History of Humankind,” first published in 2005, with a second edition published in 2015. Read the Introduction here, and read the complete book here.
Boyer was born in Philadelphia on September 22, 1937, and according to the book’s “About the Author” introduction, was educated at Nether Providence High School in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, Maryville College in Tennessee, The Edinburgh University in Scotland, Trinity University in Texas (B.A. in history), the University of Cincinnati (M.Ed. in secondary education), and other graduate schools.
Boyer married Chris Kruse in 1962, and they had three children: Michèle Boyer, Denise (married first to the late Scotty Plummer, then to Russ Johnson, and mother of Kylen Plummer), and Danielle (mother of Riana and Aidan Vermillion). Wife Chris predeceased him last year.
Boyer taught 40 years in public schools in Texas, Kentucky, Ohio and California, including 35 years at San Fernando High School (1963-1998).
In 1969, as a result of serving on the Del Prado condominium owners association, he became interested in forming a local government. It was not easy for a small population in what was then a rural area to communicate with the staff of the largest county in the world.
Boyer served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Santa Clarita Community College District from 1973 to 1981 (president, 1979-1981) and as a director of the former Castaic Lake Water Agency from 1982 to 1984.
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Boyer was also a noted genealogist who authored more than a dozen popular books on the family genealogy. During the 1960s, he was encouraged by his mother-in-law and her family to research and publish “Slade-Babcock Genealogy,” the first of about a dozen distinct titles in the field. All were self-published and profitable.
As he is descended from Count Boso IV of Arles, Boyer could say with a straight face that he is from “a long line of Bosos.”
He spoke at a number of genealogical seminars throughout the western United States, and was the American Key Speaker at the World Mayors’ Conference in Jaipur, India, in 1998.
Carl and Chris Boyer
The Boyers were involved in hosting the first group of Soviet high school students visiting Southern California in 1990, and arranging college scholarships for some of them. At that time he was one of the founders of the Santa Clarita Valley International Program.
With his wife Chris, who did much of the work, he was active in caring for children brought to the United States for donated medical treatment by Santa Clarita nonprofit organization Healing the Children. Kids from Colombia, Guatemala, Russia, Mexico and Ecuador have recuperated from life-changing open-heart surgery and other operations in the Boyers’ home before being reunited with their families.
In addition, he served as a gofer for an open-heart surgery team in Ecuador, and for a team that traveled repeatedly to Estelí, Nicaragua, to perform eye surgeries.
Since his retirement in 1998, Boyer continued to push to get Santa Clarita more involved in the world. He visited more than 140 countries (many of them as a chaperone of student groups) and both of Santa Clarita’s sister cities, Tena in Ecuador and Sariaya in the Philippines. He also served as a volunteer consultant to Sofia, Bulgaria, and Bandung Regency, Indonesia.
Boyer remained convinced that many governments are too big for us to manage.
“Had I not been fearful of losing a few hundred dollars that my wife Chris and I had invested in buying our first home, I might never have become involved in community affairs and politics,” he wrote in the book’s foreword.
Yet Boyer would not overstate his role in Santa Clarita’s cityhood: “In any event, the City of Santa Clarita would have been born roughly when it was, but I would not have been involved and I would probably have spent the last few years working on another book on family history.”
Carl Boyer talks about Santa Clarita’s 30th birthday on SCVTV in 2017.
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Tribute from Laurene Weste, Santa Clarita City Council member
“Carl was the most gracious, determined man I think I ever met,” said Santa Clarita City Councilwoman Laurene Weste, who was Boyer’s appointee as Parks Commissioner for nearly his entire tenure on the City Council, from 1988-1998.
“He had a way of strongly pushing forward with what he believed in, but he was always gracious about it,” she said.
“There were just things Carl knew we had to do, and he firmly believed that we had the talent, the drive, and the will to create a very strong and healthy city and have everything that the public here wanted and deserved, and I commend him for his extreme and extraordinary efforts,” Weste said.
“He went to Sacramento and worked really hard to create Canyon County,” she said of Boyer’s 1976 and 1978 secession bids. “He was aware of the planning and work we needed to do to remain a very special community, and that we had to have a different and closer form of government. I think everyone was devastated when that effort failed.
“But after that, Carl was very strongly an advocate in creating a city,” Weste said. “He literally helped put the city of Santa Clarita together. He believed in self-governance, and that as a community with our own government, we would be able to do what couldn’t be done any other way. He was so committed to this community, and there are so many things as a city founder that he made sure we got. He did great things. I strongly believe he made a tremendous difference in our valley.”
Boyer, in fact, encouraged Weste to apply for the city’s Parks Commission in 1988. She was appointed and served for a decade until she was elected to the City Council in 1998 — after he encouraged her to run.
“Carl said, ‘You have to do this,'” Weste said. “‘If you value the system of creating a natural environment out there and open spaces, if you care about our history, old town, trails, beautiful parks,’ he said, ‘you have to keep working to keep it going.’
“He loved nature and was committed to having the best of the best for this community,” she said. “Carl helped stop the huge landfill that was going in Towsley Canyon, where we now have Ed Davis Park. He supported me in working with Senator Ed Davis to create the Santa Clarita Woodlands Park, which is wonderful because he knew that we had to do that.
“Open space, the trails — all those things I’ve worked on all the way through since then were things that Carl supported,” Weste said. “I deeply appreciate that he allowed me to continue to work on all of the things he believed in and that I think are some of the best parts of our community.”
Not all of Boyer’s visions for Santa Clarita would get past the envisioning stage, though.
“The only thing I ever teased him about was when he wanted to renumber all the houses in Santa Clarita, so we wouldn’t have these long L.A. County numbers,” Weste said.
“He thought we ought to have a simpler numbering system, like 624 Main, instead of these numbers that start from Downtown L.A.,” she said, similar to Beverly Hills or Santa Monica. “It was cute because Carl says, ‘Well, it’ll just be classy.’ He was right, but people don’t want to change their addresses, so it didn’t happen.”
Boyer’s four decades of teaching school and his later philanthropic work on behalf of international students and disabled children exemplified his love for young people, Weste said.
“He loved kids — he was a teacher and really did work to mentor,” she said. “That makes such a difference in children’s lives. I helped Carl work on (fundraising for) the Santa Clarita Valley International Program to save children and bring children here from other countries. He and his wife worked very hard on that.
“They brought children here who were badly incapacitated and would care for them to get them to surgeries and things that wouldn’t happen in other countries,” Weste said. “These children were basically just castaways, but he and Chris just gave their love and hearts and support, and helped save children.”
Dennis Koontz, Colleague on First City Council
“Carl was very instrumental in just about everything we did and very supportive,” said Dennis Koontz, a retired city of Los Angeles firefighter, then a nurse at Hart High School who was a Boyer colleague on the first Santa Clarita City Council in 1988.
“He cared what went on, and I think that’s probably more important for anybody that gets elected, that he cared what happened and wanted to make sure everything is right,” Koontz said. “The whole council was basically that way. Where we had ideas, we shared them.”
“He wrote a lot. I didn’t like a couple of things he said about me, but that’s okay,” he said. “He was a person you could trust. He believed in doing a good job for the people who elected him. That’s one of the things I liked about him. He was a good man.”
Ken Pulskamp, former Santa Clarita City Manager
“Carl led a life of service — whether you look at his work as a schoolteacher, all his philanthropic work all throughout the world, he was all about service,” said Ken Pulskamp, Santa Clarita’s assistant city manager, then city manager from 1988-2013.
“Carl just always reached out to other people, like when he and Chris took in all those children with all those diseases and disabilities and caring for them at home,” Pulskamp said. “There are so many people that are better off because of the life that Carl Boyer led, all around the world, and particularly here in Santa Clarita.
“I started working with Carl in 1988 when the city was just getting formed and worked with him for the decade he was on the council,” Pulskamp said. “He not only was instrumental in the formation of the city, but also in establishing the culture for the city council, and the whole city organization that will survive long, long past Carl.”
Pulskamp recalled Boyer inviting him to travel to Ecuador on a medical mission about 15 years ago.
“In true Carl Boyer fashion, he’d found some child who was so severely handicapped, the only way his parents could transport him was to carry him,” he said. “The kid at that point had grown to be 12, and it’s hard carrying a 12-year-old around. So Carl and I, at his behest, decided to go to the capital city, Quito, and find a wheelchair for this kid. And it wasn’t easy to do in Ecuador. When we brought that to the parents, boy, they were so happy you would’ve thought we gave them keys to a brand new house.
“And for Carl was almost blase’ about the whole event,” Pulskamp said. “That’s just who he was. He would walk around, find people in need and help them. He did that for individuals and certainly did that here in Santa Clarita, where we’re all beneficiaries of his years and decades of hard work.”
Pulskamp visited Boyer in Saugus just a week before his friend died.
“I had the privilege to go down and spend some time with Carl,” he said. “He was supposed to be in South Africa and was planning another trip to Cuba. Even though he only had a week of life left, he was still full of life.”
Robert Geiman, former Vice President of Administration, The Master’s College
“Carl traveled to more than 140 countries, and I was with him for 93 of those,” said Boyer’s longtime friend and primary traveling companion Robert Geiman, now a resident of Linden, Washington.
“Some of them were medical missions, some were purely to experience different cultures and spend time with people in other countries,” Geiman said.
“Carl and I became acquainted during his first term on the city council,” he said. “I was Vice President for Administration at the Master’s College, and part of my responsibility included community relations. I attended nearly every city council meeting during my tenure at the Master’s College, now University. Carl and I became very good friends during that time, as did Laurene Weste and I.”
Carl Boyer and Robert Geiman at Pinegrive School in October 2017.
About six weeks older than Boyer, Geiman has been to 137 countries including the 93 they visited together. Geiman recalls their first trip was a medical mission to Ecuador in 2004 after both had retired.
“After that trip, we agreed that we would be excellent travel partners,” he said. “We had a total of 11 trips to different parts of the world. Our travels included 77 hours on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, and two trips on the Amazon River seeing the total wilderness of the Amazon River Basin from a small freighter passenger boat.”
He last spoke with Boyer on Monday, Geiman said Thursday afternoon. “I had a reservation this morning to fly down to spend time with him. I was at the airport this morning ready to fly to Los Angeles when I read your news story in the morning newsletter. I canceled my reservation. I am saddened beyond belief that I missed seeing Carl one more time while he was alive. Had I been able to go down from Linden, Washington to Santa Clarita three days ago, I’d have still seen him when he was alive. I will be there for the memorial service.”
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Boyer is survived by his three daughters, Michele Boyer of Seattle, Denise Johnson of Santa Clarita, and Danielle Vermillion of Houston; and by his three grandchildren, Kylen Plummer (Denise) and Riana and Aidan (Danielle). He was predeceased by his wife Chris in 2018 after 55 years of marriage.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adjourned its weekly meeting in Boyer’s honor Tuesday, June 4.