Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

CLWA's Balcerzak dead at 63

By Leon Worden
Signal City Editor

Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2000

ichard M. Balcerzak, a member of the Castaic Lake Water Agency board of directors, died Monday night following a brief illness.
    Balcerzak, 63, was the water board’s only “at large” director, representing the agency’s entire 195-square-mile service area.Other elected directorships are divided into geographic districts.
Richard M. Balcerzak
    “I was playing golf with him as late as six weeks ago,” said Robert Sagehorn, CLWA’s general manager. “He had to stop because of back pains.”
    Balcerzak saw a doctor for the back pains and was diagnosed two weeks ago with cancer, said his widow, Carol. He succumbed at 10:30 p.m. Monday at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Panorama City.
    “It was a complete and total shock,” Carol said. “He had cancer everywhere. Everybody thought it was a disk or something like that. To go from a bad back to being dead in two weeks... there was absolutely no preparation for it.”
    The couple has lived in Santa Clarita for 33 of their 37 years together.
    “He was a good family man, a good father,” Carol said.
    In addition to being a close personal friend, “Dick was a very practical engineer,” Sagehorn said of Balcerzak’s talents on the water board.
    “His specialty was tunnel construction. He was familiar with the contracting process and construction work. He assisted greatly in our construction projects,” Sagehorn said.
    First elected to the CLWA board in 1994 and reelected in 1998, Balcerzak worked for the Metropolitan Water District for 32 1/2 years, retiring as assistant general manager. Afterward he stayed on with MWD as a consultant and was active in the Association of California Water Agencies.
    “He was a true professional and dearly loved to do public projects,” said Laurene Weste, Santa Clarita mayor pro-tem. “He was instrumental in the creation of the city’s Central Park on CLWA land.
    “He had an upbeat personality and he was a great person to work with,” she said. “We’re going to miss him.”
    Sagehorn said the CLWA board has a certain amount of time to appoint a successor. Should it fail to do so in the allotted time, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors would fill the position.
    Balcerzak is survived by wife Carol; daughter Jennifer Donoho and her husband Dell of Santa Clarita; son Richard II, his wife Charmaine and their son Brandon of Colorado; two brothers and three sisters.
    A private burial will be followed by a public memorial service at 2 p.m. Friday at Eternal Valley Memorial Park in Newhall.

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