Cover photo for Robert St. Clair's Obituary
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1924 Robert 2015

Robert St. Clair

February 17, 1924 — May 12, 2015

Former mayor, city councilman and school board member Dr. Robert C. “Bob” St. Clair, for whom a Sierra highway parkway is named, died Tuesday at age 91. He is survived by his daughter, Suzanne St. Clair Kassinger and husband Ken, grandchildren, James and Michael St. Clair and Charles Kassinger, and numerous nieces and nephews, and countless friends. He was preceded in death by his wife of 57 years Marlys, daughter, Shelley, son, William and parents, WJ and Nora St. Clair. Besides serving as chairman of the committee that gained cityhood for Palmdale in 1962, and later as a mayor and councilman, St. Clair was one of 12 founders of Swan Memorial Hospital, the original name of the hospital that as Palmdale General Hospital, Palmdale Hospital Medical Center and Desert Palms Community Hospital served Palmdale from 1965 to 1996. He also served 16 years on the Palmdale School District board. “looking back, I think everyone involved with Palmdale at that time made notable contributions,” St. Clair told the Antelope Valley Press in 2000, when the greenbelt along Sierra Highway was named for him. “if there was one source of pride of my time on the City Council, it was our redevelopment capability and how it was used to better the city. To skim off the ‘waterfront’ on Sierra Highway and be able to build the library and City Hall was quite an accomplishment at the time.” The ‘waterfront’ consisted of businesses along Sierra Highway, south of Palmdale Boulevard, including a gas station, the Cook Nook café, “about three beer bars, one of them a pool hall,” and a drug store. “That was ‘Old Palmdale,’” St. Clair said. “Not everybody liked that we were doing, tearing down the old and putting up the new, but it was best for the city.” He added with a chuckle: “Oh, I’m sure I pissed off everyone in Palmdale at one time or another. Local politics is not a position for the ego-indulged. Those people can’t be in a position because people will rip them up.” St. Clair’s family moved to the Antelope Valley in 1932 when he was 8, and grew up in Pearblossom. After leaving the Valley to study optometry, he returned in 1956, opened his practice in Palmdale and almost immediately became involved in civic projects. In 1962 he served as chairman of the Palmdale City Incorporation Committee, which was made up of more than 50 men who each contributed $100.00 to help pay for the cityhood effort. Collectively they became known as the “Fifty Grand Men.” In 1966, he was appointed to the City Council and served one year before resigning to fulfill his commitments to the Palmdale School District Board of Trustees. St. Clair was elected to the City Council in 1972 and remained a member until 1984, serving as mayor from 1973 to 1978 and again from 1982 to 1983. He worked with others to help build Palmdale City Hall, Palmdale Cultural Center (now the Larry Chimbole Cultural Center) and the Palmdale City Library. He also participated in many community organizations such as Friends of the Palmdale City Library and Palmdale Lions Club, and he served on many committees, including the Local Agency Formation Committee at the county level. In the 1970s, St. Clair served on the Palmdale Planning Commission. He was actively involved in creating Palmdale’s Sister City program with Poncitlan, Mexico. St. Clair was also an aviation enthusiast who built two airplanes, and even taught at the Palmdale Learning Plaza, helping students construct a plane.
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