Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
Francis T. Claffey
COC Trustee; Newhall & Saugus Postmaster
Fran Claffey
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June 14, 1972 — This photograph of Francis Thomas "Fran" Claffey (1925-2015) was used in his campaign advertisement for Santa Clarita Community College District (COC) Board of Trustees. Claffey won the special election of June 20, 1972, to fill the mid-term vacancy left by founding COC board president Dr. William G. Bonelli Jr., who died the preceding February 22.

Claffey was appointed Newhall postmaster in 1964 and was promoted to Saugus postmaster in 1973. The Saugus Post Office's geographical service area was roughly three times larger than Newhall's, and it served twice as many residential addresses in 1973 — 12,000 to Newhall's 6,000. Claffey's 1973 appointment was the SCV's first civil service (merit-based) appointment to the post; until 1970, all U.S. postmasters were political appointees.

Signal archive photo (2x2-inch negative, Kodak Safety Film); photographer unknown.

Light Turnout.

Claffey Elected to COC Board.

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A slim turnout of only 11 percent of registered voters Tuesday ended in election of Newhall postmaster Francis T. Claffey to the College of the Canyons governing board.

Claffey won over his nearest opponent, Don Allen, who is completing his term as the college's student body president, by a 71-vote margin, a comfortable edge in the small count.

The election was held to fill the vacancy left by the death of Dr. William G. Bonelli, a founding member of the board.

College officials attributed the light turnout to the fact that the voting came so soon after the primaries for state and national offices.

"A lot of people have called to ask why we didn't consolidate our election with the primaries," college president Dr. Robert Rockwell said.

"We certainly would have liked such a consolidation. We like spending the money even less than the taxpayers — if that is possible.

"But State law now requires that vacancies be filled by election, not appointment. And it also requires certain formalities, with specified lengths of time to elapse between Board action, candidate filing, and election. We just weren't allowed to have it any sooner, and we could not afford to postpone it to a later date."

Claffey said: "I am delighted. We all worked hard, and I'm grateful to my supporters and to my family."

Claffey and six of his eight children (one is in the Navy and one is not yet 2 years old) distributed 10,000 brochures door-to-door to promote his candidacy.

He will join the other four board members at their regular meeting next Tuesday but cannot be formally sworn in as a voting member until the Registrar of Voters certifies the official tally.

The Registrar's office is currently overloaded with the business of checking counts on the primary election and validating thousands of signatures on initiative petitions, so was unable to give a date for finalizing the results.

Dr. Rockwell said: "We are hoping that the formalities will be over by our organization meeting, which takes place sometime during the first two weeks of July. We can then once more function with a full board as we move to final work in the budget."

The terms of two present members of the Board, Bruce Fortine and John Hackney, will expire next year, and so some of the losing candidates consoled themselves with the thought that they might try again.

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Claffey Sworn In Tuesday [As Postmaster].

Francis T. Claffey was installed as acting postmaster of the Newhall Post Office Tuesday afternoon at the Newhall Park recreation building.

Mrs. Eva Pullar, who has been postmaster in Newhall for many years, retired Tuesday.

Claffey was sworn in by Edgar Mayfield, regional director of engineering and facilities, San Francisco. Mayfield presented a picture of President Johnson and a picture of the postmaster general to Claffey. He was also presented his certificate of appointment.

'Important' Post.

Prior to the swearing in, Mayfield told Claffey that the position of postmaster was an "honorable position" and an "important" one.

"There [are many] things you should do" to be a good postmaster, he told Claffey. ''You should know about the public you serve, and you should keep your index finger on the pulse of the people."

Claffey said he realized the responsibilities of the office. He also said he would "attempt to provide the same good service Mrs. Pullar always stressed."

Tom Dale, president of the Los Angeles Postmaster's Association, introduced visiting postmasters from La Crescenta, La Canada, Tujunga, Altadena, Sunland, Pacoima, North Hollywood, Glendale, Burbank, Encino and Reseda. Saugus Postmaster Donald K. Miller was unable to attend. His wife represented him.

Telegrams Read.

Kay Martell, field representative for Congressman Everett Burkhalter [D-San Fernando Valley], read congratulatory telegrams from Burkhalter and Assemblyman Tom Bane.

Other visiting guests were introduced by Andrew Martin. Among those introduced were: Dave Baker of the Hart High school district; Anthony Gelardi, president, North Oaks Homeowners Association; Tom Neuner, Newhall-Saugus Chamber of Commerce; Bob Hunt, Newhall Land and Farming; Mayor Ralph Harper, San Fernando; Andy Hunsaker, representing Tom Bane; Molly Davis, representing Assemblyman Tom Waite; and Norm Molgaard, president of the Kiwanis.

Also introduced were Mrs. Pullar, Bill Thompson, assistant postmaster, and Inspector Hal Hardy of the post office department.

Master of ceremonies was Lyman Nichols. Rev. Danford W. Alger of the Church of the Nazarene gave the invocation. Benediction was given by Rev. George M. Miller of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church.

New Postmaster.

Claffey Named to Saugus.

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Newhall's loss was Saugus' gain Friday when Newhall Postmaster Francis Claffey suddenly became Postmaster of Saugus.

With all the speed of a dead letter, Claffey was notified of the appointment two hours before the swearing-in ceremony was scheduled. The Saugus postal district, which has been without a postmaster since Spring 1971, is nearly three times as large as the Newhall district.

Claffey applied for promotion to the Saugus post and was named to the position Friday. Art Thompson, who has been officer-in-charge at Saugus for two years, will remain there as assistant postmaster.

Bill Thompson, assistant postmaster at Newhall, will become officer-in-charge there.

Claffey was sworn in as Saugus postmaster Friday morning by Garth Gledhill, [illegible; Gledhill, 1914-1997, is buried at Eternal Valley Cemetery].

Claffey has been postmaster in Newhall for nine years.

The Saugus district serves about 12,000 residences in Valencia, Saugus and Canyon Country. Several rural routes reach outlying homes in Val Verde, Leona Valley and Agua Dulce.

Over 80 persons are employed in the Saugus district.

About 6,000 residents in Newhall, Serena Park [Princess Homes] and Friendly Valley are served by the Newhall Post Office.

Claffey was appointed under the new merit system, which became law in 1970. Under the method, a panel of civil service, business, law and postal experts recommend candidates for promotion.

In past years, postmasters have been recommended for appointment by members of Congress, but political influence in postal appointments was banned under the 1970 law.

The Saugus vacancy was created by the retirement of Postmaster Don Miller in 1971.

Claffey, who was a clerk and letter carrier in Van Nuys before he came to Newhall, lives in Serena Park with his wife and eight children. He was elected last year to a four-year term as a trustee of College of the Canyons.

Claffey was raised in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.

9600 dpi jpeg from original 2x2-inch negative, Signal Photo Archive, Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society collection.

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Future Valencia Campus


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COC Opens 9/1969


COC at Hart 1969


Trustees 1969-70


Campus Dedication 10-26-1970


Instant Campus 1970


Modular Buildings Early 1970s


Graduation 1971


Fashions 3/1972


Claffey Elected 1972

Claffey Obituary 2015


Marketing Brochure, IRC Rendering ~1972


1973 Construction Bond


1973 Yearbook


Bill Leach, Award Winner 3/1973


IRC Construction 5/1973 (Mult.)


IRC, Cougar Statium Const. 7/1973 (Mult.)


IRC Construction 1973-74 x3


Reagan at IRC Dedication 1974 x2


1975 Yearbook


1976 Yearbook


1977 Yearbook


Ex-Trustee Don Benton Nominated to Run Selective Service System, 2017

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