Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Activist Carla Bard Killed in Car Crash

Accident: Ojai resident is remembered for nearly five decades of community and environmental work.

November 17, 1997|DARYL KELLEY and CHRIS CHI | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Daryl Kelley is a Times staff writer and Chris Chi is a correspondent

OJAI — Community activist Carla Bard, a pioneer of the environmental movement in Ventura County and a statewide expert on water issues, was killed over the weekend when her car slid in a driving rain and plunged down a steep embankment near Paso Robles.

Bard, 69, died Saturday morning while driving alone on U.S. Highway 101 to a meeting of a conservation league in San Francisco.

The chairwoman of the state Water Resources Control Board under Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., Bard was remembered Sunday for nearly five decades of community activism in Ventura County.

"She was at the apex of the environmental movement here, and her loss is beyond calculation," said Neil A. Moyer, president of the Environmental Coalition of Ventura County. "She was involved for so long that her memory of why and how things happened was supremely better than the bureaucrats'."

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday December 3, 1997 Ventura County Edition Metro Part B Page 4 Zones Desk 1 inches; 30 words Type of Material: Correction
Planning Commission--A Nov. 17 story on Carla Bard's death contained incorrect information about the Ventura County Planning Commission. Vinetta Larson of Ventura was the first woman appointed to the commission.

Cultured and always elegantly dressed--even genteel in manner--the English-born Bard labored for decades as a volunteer on social issues locally and still worked full time as an analyst at the Environmental Defense Center's office in Ventura.

"It's a terrible shock," said her husband, Archie Bard of Ojai. They married in 1948 while both were students at UC Berkeley. "She was not any garden-variety person."

Even as his wife quietly celebrated her 69th birthday last week, she was planning to continue the tireless routine that had marked her adult life, Archie Bard said.

"She was just gearing up to continue everything that she had been doing," he said. "Wherever there was a problem that needed fixing, whether environmental or otherwise, she had the energy and the perspective to attack it. She may have stepped on people's toes, but a lot of those toes needed to be stepped on."

In recent months, for example, Carla Bard had opposed deeper excavations of Saticoy and El Rio gravel pits and argued successfully against a housing project that would have covered 815 acres of farmland on the Oxnard Plain.

Supervisor John K. Flynn, who appointed Bard as the county's first woman planning commissioner in 1973, opposed her on the gravel pit issue but said that Ventura County has lost a powerful champion for good.

"She was one of our top community activists," Flynn said. "Her whole life was dedicated, not only to environmental issues, but to health issues and poor people. She was a leader. When Carla Bard spoke, people listened."

Early this year, when many of her contemporaries were planning how to make retirement meaningful, Bard went to work for the Environmental Defense Center's new Ventura County office.

She arrived directly from a year and a half as an environmental analyst at Patagonia Inc., a Ventura-based outdoor clothing company that contributes to environmental organizations--including $100,000 to open the new EDC office.

*

"I've always been blessed with marvelous health and a great deal of energy," Bard said in a January interview.

"Besides, I've never found that retired people were particularly fulfilled," she added, "and I can't imagine living without doing something interesting."

John Buse, a staff attorney with the EDC, said Sunday that the organization considered it a coup when Bard signed on.

"To me, Carla was really our eyes, our radar in Ventura County," Buse said. "It's really going to be difficult to measure that loss. It's immeasurable."

Bard moved to Somis in 1950 with her husband, who is the grandson of Ventura County pioneer farmer and U.S. Sen. Thomas Bard.

Archie ran the Bard family ranching company and Carla delivered four children in five years.

"I joined the League of Women Voters to keep my brain from turning to mush," she recalled this year. "It did."

In 1953, she volunteered at the Children's Home Society, which arranged for the adoptions of orphans.

In the following years, she volunteered on committees that studied the loss of farmland to development and scrutinized the local criminal justice system. She was the only woman on the 55-person criminal justice committee.

She also worked as an unpaid investigator for a poverty law office in Oxnard's La Colonia barrio for a year in the early 1960s. And she helped implement President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society agenda by serving on the local Community Action Commission that distributed the flood of new federal dollars.

She then served on a board that advised federal officials on how many local hospitals should be built. And in 1970 she was appointed to the Ventura County Grand Jury.

*

Flynn tapped Bard for the Planning Commission three years later.

"I said I was appointed to sit by the door," she said. "because women and minorities were being hired and appointed and placed by the door so everybody could see that the agency had one. It was a great advantage for me."

In 1976, after three years as a planner, she took her knowledge of water issues to the state Regional Water Quality Control Board in Los Angeles, an agency that forces polluters to clean up their acts.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|