Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Jo Anne Darcy
Mayor Emeritus, City of Santa Clarita

Jo Anne Darcy, Santa Clarita's influential and beloved "mayor emeritus," died early Sunday. She was 86.

The news came from daughter Joleen Darcy, who personally cared for her while she was largely housebound in Saugus for more than a decade.

"She was so proud of what she had to do with forming the city (of Santa Clarita)," Joleen said. "I think she did a fine job."

From Acton saloon owner to executive director of the (now) Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, to the representative of county government before there was a city of Santa Clarita, to the creation of the city and her service on the first and successive city councils and innumerable nonprofit agency boards, Jo Anne Darcy had her hands in virtually everything that happened in this valley for more than 30 years.

She's the only person ever to serve back-to-back terms as Santa Clarita's mayor, if that tells you anything.

Where to begin? Jo Anne Hall was born May 2, 1931, in San Angelo, Texas. Her mother brought her to California as a child, stopping in San Francisco before landing for good in Los Angeles County where Jo Anne met her husband, Curtis Darcy, and raised four children — Gary, Darrell, Richard and the youngest, Joleen.

Living in Culver City, Jo Anne was an administrative assistant at TRW while "Darcy," as Curtis was known, drove a beer truck until 1965 when he suffered a major heart attack. Curtis knew somebody who knew somebody, and by 1967 the couple had moved to Acton where they reopened the Acton '49er saloon with Jo Anne as "chief cook and bottle washer," in her words.

It wasn't meant to last. In the early 1970s the family moved to Saugus. Jo Anne took a job as assistant manager of the Newhall-Saugus-Valencia Chamber of Commerce. In no time at all, she was running the chamber and grew its membership three-fold by the time she left in 1980 to serve as the Santa Clarita Valley field deputy to the 5th District's newly elected supervisor, Michael D. Antonovich.

In between, Jo Anne ran the biggest-ever Newhall Fourth of July Parade in 1976 with approximiately 150 entries from across the valley; a year later she oversaw the chamber's move from a cramped office in the Plaza Posada shopping center to the historic Pardee House, which stood where the city's Veterans Historic Plaza is today.

(Now the Pardee House is at Heritage Junction in Hart Park — which, like most things, has a Jo Anne Darcy connection. She was one of the founders of the SCV Historical Society in 1975 and helped with the move.)

Jo Anne chaired the chamber's public affairs and legislative committee at a time in Santa Clarita history when the area's population was growing rapidly and the chamber was the closest thing the SCV had to local government. It was a place where local business and community leaders met and communicated regularly with county, state and federal government representatives to deal with the issues of the day, mostly relating to growth.

Not only was Jo Anne responsible for coordinating all of that, but she also had become active in local Republican Party circles. So when Mike Antonovich came to town looking for a field deputy, she was the natural fit.

"He called me the Saturday after he got elected and asked if I'd consider working for him," Jo Anne said in a 2002 interview. He grilled her about the Santa Clarita Valley for 2-1/2 hours and offered her the job.

She didn't shed any of her volunteer responsibilities. If anything, she took on more. She helped launch the local Friends of the Libraries group, started the Newhall Walk of Western Stars in 1981 and served as president of Zonta.

By the time the city incorporated in 1987 she had been named Santa Clarita Valley Woman of the Year (1984), "Outstanding Woman" by the Soroptimists (1986) and Founders Award recipient by Zonta (1986). In 1990 she was the first woman to be named Citizen of the Year by the Santa Clarita Elks Lodge.

The city of Santa Clarita was created by local residents who wanted to control their own political destiny. Santa Clarita was a tiny piece of a huge county, and the seat of county government was 35 miles away. Plus, Santa Claritans were paying millions more in taxes every year than they were getting back in services. Some wondered whether Jo Anne would be able to represent two masters, city and county.

She did it, and she did it with aplomb.

"Mike (Antonovich) believed in self-government, and he didn't stand in our way," Jo Anne said. "We were fighting for our own out here. We knew approximately how much money was being sifted out of this area that we should be spending (on) getting things the people needed out here. And that's what we did, or tried to do."

And she did so much more. While serving as council member and mayor, Jo Anne started or helped start the Domestic Violence Center, the annual Wine Auction for the Senior Center and the Celebrity Waiter dinner for the American Heart Association. In 2001 the county of Los Angeles emblazoned her name on the Jo Anne Darcy Canyon Country Library, and the city memorialized her in the sidewalk on the Newhall Walk of Western Stars.

And just last week, during its 30th Anniversary State of the City luncheon, the city remembered one of its brightest stars when it played a video clip from Jo Anne's final council meeting on April 23, 2002. Addressing the audience that had gathered to pay tribute, she said:

"So many emotions have passed through my life, so many tributes I've been given — not deserving, I don't think. But I have been a part of those organizations and those things that happened. And when I look at our city today, I realized what a great thing happened when we did become a city. It is nothing but great.

"All the people that came with us and stayed with us time and time again, followed us to meetings, demonstrations, giving work on their own for thousands of hours from our volunteers — I do love you all. You're a part of my life. You're a part of me. And I want you to feel that way about your city because that's what it means.

"It's a love. It's a love affair for people. And it will always be like that if you continue to help."

1993 Frontier Days Parade in Canyon Country with Supervisor Mike Antonovich.

City Council election night at Rattler's, April 1994. Clyde Smyth (left) finds out he won by 16 votes. (15 after a recount.)

SCV Senior Center Benefit Wine Auction, 1994. Jo Anne is flanked by Dan Hon (left) and Stan Sierad.

Animal Fair at Hart Park, circa 1994, with Laurene Weste.

1994 SCV Fourth of July Parade on Walnut Street.

With Connie Worden-Roberts circa 1994.

Grand opening of first Newhall Community Center, December 1994.

At a local Republican event with her girlfriends, 1995.

Post-earthquake reopening of Ed Davis Park at Towsley Canyon, 1994.

Post-earthquake reopening of Ed Davis Park at Towsley Canyon, 1994.

Mayoral rotation, Darcy to Boyer, December 1995.

Mayoral rotation, Darcy to Boyer, December 1995.

1995 Frontier Days Parade in Canyon Country.

Mentryville grand reopening, May 11, 1996.

Mentryville cleanup day (city event). Photo by Richard Rioux, August 1995.

1996 Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival at Melody Ranch with Baxter Black.

Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival at Melody Ranch with Clyde Smith, mid-late 1990s. (City handout photo.)

First day of Saturday service on Metrolink, Feb. 1, 1997.

First day of Saturday service on Metrolink, Feb. 1, 1997.

Richard Rioux Park dedication in Stevenson Ranch, 1998.

Richard Rioux Park dedication in Stevenson Ranch, 1998.

SCV Historical Society board installation with Glen Rollins, Patti Rasmussen & Tom Frew, 2-23-1998.

SCV Historical Society board installation with Laurene Weste, 2-23-1998.

All-America City competition, Philadelphia, June 1999. With (from left) Kiza Stratton, Carmen Sarro, Gloria Mercado-Fortine, Connie Worden-Roberts.

All-America City competition, Philadelphia, June 1999.

All-America City competition, Philadelphia, June 1999.

All-America City competition, Philadelphia, June 1999.

Acton Rehabilitation Center's 1998 Al-impics at College of the Canyons.

Congratulating Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook on COC's 30th anniversary, 1999. (COC photo.)

Photos by Leon Worden except as noted.

Legacy: Jo Anne Darcy

Legacy Show 2002


Obituary, Photos


Celebration of Life


Photo Album


1998 Senior Center Wine Auction



Acton '49er x3


Acton '49er Shootout


Acton 4th of July Parade 1968


1971 Turkey War x4


Historical Society Event at Mentryville 1979


John Ritter 1982


Dennis Weaver 1984


Cliffie Stone 1990


Mayor Jo Anne Darcy ~1990


Newhall Walk 2001


1987 Campaign Brochure


Campaign Pinback

RETURN TO TOP ]   RETURN TO MAIN INDEX ]   PHOTO CREDITS ]   BIBLIOGRAPHY ]   BOOKS FOR SALE ] is another service of SCVTV, a 501c3 Nonprofit • Site contents ©SCVTV • Additional copyrights apply
comments powered by Disqus
  • Calendar