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Home » Santa Clarita News » A Look Back At A Few Notable Deaths In 2012
A Look Back At A Few Notable Deaths In 2012

A Look Back At A Few Notable Deaths In 2012

For the Santa Clarita Valley, 2012 was a banner year that saw the annexation of several communities and the opening of the Old Town Newhall Library.

But 2012 also saw the passing of several prominent Santa Clarita residents: actors, professors, politicians and others who made important contributions to our community, and will be remembered well.

Pete Pew
d. January 9
Pew was a respected social studies at William S. Hart High School, best known for his work in Advanced Placement. He succumbed to cancer on January 9. Read the full obituary.  

Clyde Smyth
d. January 22
The former Santa Clarita mayor died peacefully at age 80 after suffering a stroke. Known as “Landslide Clyde” for winning a city council election by only 16 votes in 1994, Smyth was also involved with the Santa Clarita Valley Rotary Club, the Boy Scouts of America and the boards of Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital and the SCV Boys and Girls Club. Read the full obituary.

Jerome Courtland
d. March 5
Known for his directing role for several episodes of “The Flying Nun,” “Dynasty” and “Love Boat,” the actor, director and Santa Clarita resident died from heart disease at age 85. He also starred in the short-lived Disney series “The Saga of Andy Burnett” and opposite Shirley Temple in “Kiss and Tell.” Read the full obituary.

Cathie Wright
d. April 14
Wright, who died at age 82 from complications related to dementia, was a member of the state Assembly (1980-1992) and early proponent for Santa Clarita’s bid to become a city. She became a state Senator in 1992, where she advocated funding for the College of the Canyons, particularly for a new library and Media & Fine Arts Building in the 1990s. Read the full obituary.

Harry Bell
d. July 5
Named the SCV Man of the Year in 2011, Bell was known as the founder of the local Real Estate Board and twice received the Realtor of the Year award. He was also involved with the Shriners, Masons, and the SCV Rotary Club and his love of planes and flying inspired humanitarian missions to Mexico. Bell died when the plane he was piloting with Michael Boolen crashed near Rancho Camulos. He was 89. Read the full obituary.

Gary Thornhill
d. December 15
Known in print as “Victor Valencia” and to his friends as “Thorny,” Thornhill left a legacy of news stories and photos, and was described as the kind of freelance journalist who was a “throwback hero to those old can-do movies of yesteryear.” He died at age 74. Read the full obituary.

Harry Carey Jr.
d. December 28
Western actor and Saugus native Harry Carey Jr. died Friday at 91. He lived most recently in Santa Barbara with his wife, Marilyn. Carey, who earned the nickname “Dobe” as a child for the adobe color of his hair, was born May 16, 1921, to Harry Carey Sr. and Olive Carey at their ranch in Saugus, which is now the Tesoro Del Valle housing development.


A Look Back At A Few Notable Deaths In 2012

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About Perry Smith

Perry Smith is a print and broadcast journalist who has won several awards for his focused, hyperlocal community coverage in several different regions of the country. In addition to five years of experience covering the Santa Clarita Valley, Smith, a San Fernando Valley native, has worked in newspapers and news websites in Los Angeles, the Northwest, the Central Valley and the South, before coming to KHTS in 2012. To contact Smith, email him at Perry@hometownstation.com.
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