Before there was a city of Santa Clarita, there was Bobbie Trueblood Davis.
She was a force unto her own.
With her family by her side, “Bobbie” died Saturday, December 16, 2017, at home in Morro Bay, where she retired with her late husband – former LAPD chief and state Sen. Ed Davis – after more than half a century as an influential participant in the social and political fabric of the Santa Clarita Valley. She was 93.
It was an uncharacteristically quiet end to a transformative epoch in Santa Clarita Valley history.
“Mrs. Republican,” as she was known here, actually hailed from the south coast of England where she was born Oct. 30, 1924, as Aileen Nash. She never used her real first name. According to a 1996 biography by her good friend from the other side of the political aisle, the late Ruth Newhall, Bobbie’s father expected a boy and went to the hospital looking for his “little Bobby.” It stuck.
Bobbie was a war bride. In England she met a U.S. soldier named Fred Trueblood Jr., son of the owner-editor of the Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise, a little weekly paper in a little town north of Los Angeles that had no stoplights but quite a number of oil workers and bomb makers.
Truebloods were Democrats back then, but that fact didn’t stop Bobbie from registering as a Republican as soon as her citizenship came through. Her family back home was with Winston Churchill’s Conservative Party, and she’d never dream of going “Labour,” as Newhall notes.
Her beau’s parents lived on a section of William S. Hart’s ranch in Newhall. (Today, the “Frew house” is the Hart Park headquarters building.) Bobbie arrived in June 1946, just in time for Hart to die. In July she and Fred married. That same month she was indoctrinated into Newhall life when she attended her first Fourth of July Parade. Later she helped organize the parades.
There almost wasn’t a parade in 1955. The organizers couldn’t get it together that year. At Bobbie’s insistence, 14 of Newhall’s finest, including several Truebloods, grabbed flags and marched down what is now Main Street.
Funny story. Her “friends” insisted she carry the Union Jack, what with her being a Brit and all. Nobody could find one. But some wag came up with a relatively close approximation – a flag of the South – and they made her carry it. To this day, people wonder why the only known photo of the 1955 parade shows somebody carrying a Confederate flag. They thought nobody would know the difference. And they certainly couldn’t have predicted this “Internet” thing that has kept it in play.
It was a virtual repeat in 1973 when July 4 fell on a Wednesday. The Chamber of Commerce wanted to move the Fourth of July Parade to the weekend, when the businesses were closed, and make it the Seventh or Eighth of July Parade. Bobbie would have none of it. The Fourth of July is the Fourth of July, darn it. On July 4, she marched down the street in what was thereafter known as “Bobbie’s parade.”
More correctly, she was carried.
“The centerpiece was Bobbie in a flowing white dress,” Newhall writes, “carried on high on a litter borne by six volunteer Rotarians and waving, on a single staff, the Stars and Stripes and England’s Union Jack” – the real Union Jack this time.
The Signal (then under Scott and Ruth Newhall’s ownership) made a big deal of it, and the message took. Three short years later, for the nation’s bicentennial, Jo Anne Darcy was in charge of the parade. Darcy’s parade on July 4, 1976, had more entries than the parade has seen since.
Of course, Bobbie was in that parade. Bobbie would participate in 50 consecutive Newhall Fourth of July Parades. Nobody comes close other than Montie Montana, and that was the Tournament of Roses Parade, not Newhall’s Fourth. Bobbie and Ruth Newhall were co-grand marshals in 1995.
After Bobbie and Fred wed, they bought a house in Bill Bonelli’s “Santa Clarita” housing tract in Dry Canyon, which was renamed Seco Canyon because someone thought it sounded better in Spanish.
They raised four children – Fred III, John, Michael and Kyltie – and sent them to Hart High. It was the town’s only high school at the time.
Bobbie’s father-in-law, Fred Trueblood Sr., died in 1960, and the family sold The Signal a couple of years later. Scott and Ruth Newhall bought it in 1963 and hired Bobbie to write the society column. She had written it previously, on a temporary basis, when her family owned the paper. She stayed with The Signal “until (Scott’s) attacks on her favorite politicians became too venomous to overlook,” Ruth writes.
Bobbie wasn’t just writing about the social scene – today we’d call it the nonprofit sector – she was living it. She was the first female president of the Newhall-Saugus Boys Club, which added girls in the early 1970s and became one of the first Boys and Girls Clubs in the United States. They made her “Man of the Year.”
“Woman of the Year” was an appellation she received in 1972 from the Newhall-Saugus-Valencia Chamber of Commerce. (The NSV Chamber became the SCV Chamber in 1980, and the SCV Man and Woman of the Year awards were later transferred to an independent committee of past recipients.)
The previous year, in 1971, Bobbie became the first employee of Henry Mayo Newhall (then called Memorial) Hospital. The hospital board formed in 1970 and needed a director of community relations to spread the word about the planned hospital and organize support groups. Her intimacy with the local movers and shakers made Bobbie the ideal candidate. The hospital broke ground in 1972 and opened in 1975.
Bobbie was everywhere – everywhere a charity needed her to be. She helped get the Boys (and Girls) Club Benefit Auction off the ground in 1972 (still going strong). She presided over the first meeting in 1975 of the SCV Historical Society (still going strong). She is credited with naming St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Newhall – for another one of the organizers, Judy Stevens, a Hart High School math teacher. As for the spelling, there’s a St. Stephen but no St. Steven. (Still going strong.)
Meanwhile, she bolstered her Republican credentials both locally and professionally in a town that once voted Democrat but switched around 1970. She was a leader in the Republican Women’s Federated and other GOP clubs, and she represented Assemblyman Newt Russell and State Sen. Ed Reinecke as a field deputy.
Her husband of 33 years, Fred Trueblood Jr., died in April 1979.
In 1980 she latched onto local Assemblyman Bob Cline’s campaign for state senate. He lost. Ed Davis, the fiery ex-LAPD chief, won. In January 1981, Ed hired the woman with all of the local credentials – “Mrs. Republican” – to serve on his legislative staff. Three years later, they married.
Ed drove the car that carried Bobbie and Ruth in the 1995 parade.
“It was more comfortable than being carried in a litter, but maybe not quite so much fun,” Ruth remembered.
Bobbie Trueblood Davis is survived by her four children: Fred Trueblood III, John Trueblood, Michael Trueblood and Kyltie Trueblood; five grandchildren: Lisa Hothan, Holland Hothan, Danielle Hofing, Cielo Fromme and Edward Trueblood; three great-grandchildren: Amelia Fromme, Isobelle Fromme and Hunter Hothan; her brother, Ivor Nash, and his children, Kathryn Nash and Simon Nash.
A private service is being planned in the Morro Bay area.