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UPDATE: Worden-Roberts remembered as friend, mentor, advocate

Posted: August 13, 2014 12:45 p.m.
Updated: August 13, 2014 6:43 p.m.

Connie Worden-Roberts joins others dignitaries in the ceremonial 2008 ground-breaking for the cross-valley connector. Photo courtesy of Leon Worden

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Ask anyone who’s been in the Santa Clarita Valley a while and they’ll tell you: the fingerprints of Connie Worden-Roberts are all over the area.

They’re on the organizations she helped found, the roads she tirelessly advocated to get built. They’re on the city itself, which she collected signatures to help create.

They’re on the people she worked with and inspired to join her in shaping the city. And they’re on those now charged with carrying on her legacy after her death Tuesday at the age of 83.

“From my standpoint, here in Santa Clarita, that’s one of your founding people,” Mayor Laurene Weste said Wednesday. “She gave us this tremendous opportunity, and it’s up to us to be responsible to take care of those things that she valued and worked so hard on throughout her life.”

Weste called Worden-Roberts a mentor and “like a sister.”

“She was fully willing to teach and she was very much a hard taskmaster,” Weste recalled. “She was not lightweight; you didn’t whine about anything with Connie. And I think that’s why she has such wonderful respect from other community leaders.”

Born in Minnesota in 1930, Worden-Roberts came to live in the Santa Clarita Valley around 1970.
She immersed herself in volunteerism and advocacy.

“Over the past 40 years, I found she was a do-everything activist,” said Tony Newhall, who knew Worden-Roberts for years. “She worked as a local citizen in championing causes for the public.”

Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, said the thing he most admired about Worden-Roberts was her persistence.

“I think she just didn’t get discouraged,” he said. “She just kept working on things.”

Among her signature accomplishments was her work to establish the city of Santa Clarita. She personally collected 2,000 out of the 24,000 signatures needed to put the matter to a vote.

“She was so deeply involved in our attempts to bring local government to the Santa Clarita Valley,” recalled Carl Boyer, one of the original five Santa Clarita City Council members.

“The petition campaign for cityhood was really made possible by the fact that we spent a lot of time at her house, going over the signatures one by one to make sure that the signatures we submitted to the county were valid.”

A characteristic he most associates with Worden-Roberts was her “tremendous desire to serve the people,” Boyer said Wednesday.

“She just wanted to get the job done. There was no glory involved,” he said.

Longtime friend Glo Donnelly worked with Worden-Roberts in the city formation effort and said, “Without Connie it would have never happened.”

“She had a passion for this community and for the people,” Donnelly said. “She was absolutely one of the most remarkable women I’ve ever had the honor to know.”

Before the cityhood drive, Worden-Roberts was part of the Canyon County Formation Committee, which attempted twice in the late 1970s to form a separate county in the Santa Clarita Valley.

‘Road Warrior’
Dubbed the Santa Clarita Valley’s “Road Warrior,” Worden-Roberts helped to found the Santa Clarita Valley Transportation Management Association and was appointed by Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich to the North County Transportation Coalition.

“Connie was a dedicated and enthusiastic member of the Santa Clarita Valley community,” said Antonovich, who represents the Fifth Supervisorial District. “As my appointee to the North County Transportation Coalition, she provided a passionate vision for improved transit access.

“Her leadership and commitment contributed to a transportation plan and new roads that became the backbone of the Santa Clarita Valley,” he continued. “Connie’s ever-present commitment to the residents of the Santa Clarita Valley and the Fifth District will be missed.”

Worden-Roberts also served as co-chairwoman of the SCV Transportation Alliance and as chairwoman of the League of Women Voters in Los Angeles.

“I met Connie while advocating for Highway 126 improvements,” said Marlee Lauffer, who works as vice president of marketing and communications for Newhall Land Development Inc. “I was immediately in awe of her knowledge.

“As I got to know her, I saw that it was also her passion for this valley, her caring heart and her intense integrity that defined her,” Lauffer continued.

“She is Santa Clarita Valley, and she is one of a kind. I’m honored to have been her friend.”

Donnelly also praised Worden-Roberts’ contributions to roads.

“She’s touched, I believe, the lives of just about everyone who lives here,” Donnelly said. “Anyone who gets on a road can thank Connie, in part, for being able to drive safely.”

Worden-Roberts also helped found the Valley Industry Association, or VIA, which was originally focused on transportation.

“She actually hired me when I came to work for VIA,” said Kathy Norris, president and chief executive officer of VIA. “We shared office space and we worked with each other on a daily basis.”

Norris said Worden-Roberts was a “human dynamo, accomplished, practical, forward thinking and an amazing businesswoman.”

“She just had such a huge heart and loved all of those around her like they were family,” Norris said.

“She was genuinely interested in hearing about everyone’s family and what was going on in their lives,” Norris continued. “She just had an enormous capacity to love.”

Worden-Roberts also was a longtime board member for the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley.

Perhaps the best way to measure Worden-Roberts’ impact and legacy locally, according to Weste, is to imagine what things would be like had she not been here.

“If she had not been here, who and what would we be? Who would have filled that void? Who would have done that?” asked Weste. “And I can’t think of anybody.

“That’s your linchpin,” she continued. “That’s the amazing legacy for Connie Worden-Roberts.”
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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