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Ed Bolden: Still going strong

Posted: August 3, 2008 8:44 p.m.
Updated: October 5, 2008 5:02 a.m.
Ed Bolden, 80, still goes to work every day at the civil engineering firm he founded in 1964, Andel Engineering, on San Fernando Road in Newhall. Ed Bolden, 80, still goes to work every day at the civil engineering firm he founded in 1964, Andel Engineering, on San Fernando Road in Newhall.
Ed Bolden, 80, still goes to work every day at the civil engineering firm he founded in 1964, Andel Engineering, on San Fernando Road in Newhall.

Known throughout the Santa Clarita Valley as one of the SCV's "classiest guys" Ed Bolden, exemplifies the life of an active senior.

Bolden, 80, goes to work every day at the firm he helped found, Andel Engineering on San Fernando Road, in Newhall.

"How can anyone not like Ed Bolden?" said longtime acquaintance Gary Condie.

Bolden came to the SCV in 1968 and bought a home in one of the first developments constructed by the "Newhall Land and Farming Company" (known now as Newhall Land).

"We bought in Old Orchard I, the Farm's (Newhall Land and Farming Co.) first development," Bolden said.

Bolden, and wife Anna, were married in August 1949, and will soon celebrate their 59th wedding anniversary. They have two sons, Norman and Michael, one lives in Arizona and the other in Seattle, Wash.

The childhood sweethearts first met at the church in Ft. Worth where her father was a minister.

"She was about 6 and I was 10 or 11," Bolden said. "But I didn't really notice her until I was older."

Bolden was born in El Paso, Texas, but grew up in Fredrick, Okla., spending summers in Ft. Worth, Texas with his grandmother.

His parents were both college graduates, so it was assumed that Bolden would also attend college.

However, in the 1940s Bolden found it difficult to find a college that would accept him.

"Things were different then," he said. "I couldn't get into any school in Texas, I could get into black colleges only."

Determined to become a civil engineer, Bolden studied for a year at the Hampton Institute in Virginia, a black college, before being accepted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Bolden found himself the only black in his class of civil engineers.

"There were other blacks on campus, but there weren't any others in civil engineering. There was one black in the class before me, and one woman in my class, the class of 1949. It was a different time," he said.

Bolden said he didn't have any difficulties on campus.

"The experiences were fantastic. On campus we could visit all the facilities, but if we stepped off campus all the restaurants were segregated - and this was Illinois, not Texas," he said.

After graduation Bolden went to work for the Illinois Highway Department.

After a time he wrote a letter to the California Highway Department (the entity that preceded Caltrans) and asked for a job.

"They told me to come on out and I did. We had a pretty good relationship," he said.

The Boldens moved to Los Angeles in January 1956.

Bolden started Andel Engineering in the SCV with four partners in 1964.

"I started my own business for independence and to have responsibility for my own designs," he said.

"You want to have credit for your designs."

Throughout the years his partners left to pursue other interests.

"We split the business and some of them went into real estate. Now they're rich and I'm still in engineering," Bolden said, smiling.

At Andel Engineering Bolden said the firm specializes in civil engineering work designing infrastructure, sewers, storm drains and street grading.

Bolden has also long been involved in the community. He's been a member of Rotary since 1965, an elder at the First Presbyterian Church in Newhall and is currently serving his third term as board president of the Samuel Dixon Family Health Centers, Inc.

"I knew Sam Dixon as a pastor," Bolden said.

However, Bolden didn't immediately become involved with the Center, which started with a clinic in Val Verde and has since expanded with centers in Canyon Country and Newhall.

"I noticed the opening of the second location at Camp Plenty (in Canyon Country) and someone asked me to become involved and I said, yes," he said.

Bolden said the Center is an important resource for area residents who can't afford to visit a hospital or doctor because of financial reasons.

"We have generous donors and are able to obtain grants to provide health services to those who don't have any," he said. "It makes me feel good to be part of that kind of organization."

Bolden is currently looking forward to opening a full time health center in Newhall by the end of the year and to the Center's signature fundraiser - the annual Rubber Ducky Regatta to be held Oct. 18 at Castaic Lake.

"It is a fun, family event and anyone can participate," he said.

While Bolden has seen more than four decades of change in the SCV, he said he doesn't miss "the old Santa Clarita Valley."

"I'm excited about a place that's developing and growing, I like to see new things going on," he said. "I give the Farm (Newhall Land) a lot of the credit for great planning and making the SCV a fantastic place to live."

Asked what piece of advice he has for today's youth he passed along a piece of advice once given to him, he said:

"Don't embarrass your parents, keep your nose clean and try not to shame your parents," he said. "I remember someone telling that once and I've always remembered it. I thought it was good advice."


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