Posted: December 14, 2012
Bertha Henry Taylor—businesswoman, community activist, and longtime friend of HIU—died on Monday, December 10, 2012, in San Clemente. She was 101.
As a realtor who handled home and property sales for many of San Clemente’s most prominent citizens over the course of many decades, Taylor was an icon in the Orange County business community. She was the 1964 Community Saleswoman of the Year, 1968 Realtor of the Year, 1973 Woman of Achievement, and an Honorary Life Member of the California Real Estate Association.
Her stellar career was complemented by a legendary devotion to the community; she was sometimes called “Mrs. San Clemente” and “San Clemente’s Living Legend” in recognition of her numerous contributions to the city that was her home since 1925. In the 1960s, she led a campaign to maintain and improve several of the city’s beaches, including the construction of the city’s first stairway to the beach. Other projects included a nationwide tourism campaign for the city, the first July 4th fireworks show at the San Clemente Pier, preservation of Pacific Coast Highway during freeway construction, revitalization of the La Cristianita Pageant, a hospitality center for Marines, and countless other endeavors.
Most recently, she worked to have a historical marker commemorating the first Christian baptism in Alta California moved to a more prominent place in the city. She was featured in two historical books, The Heritage of San Clemente and The Impact of President Nixon’s Residency on San Clemente. She was the first woman to serve on the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber’s first female president. She was named Citizen of the Year in 1978, received the Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002, and was named to the city’s Wall of Recognition in 2010.
Taylor was equally enthusiastic in living her Christian faith. She was a founding member of Community Christian Church in San Juan Capistrano and a longtime supporter of Hope International University, where she was the first female member of the Board of Trustees. She was also the Board’s first female chairperson, and Pacific Christian College moved its campus from Long Beach to Fullerton during her tenure. The year that she served as chairperson of the Spirit of Hope Gala, she sponsored every attendee in a remarkable act of generosity. In 2011, HIU honored her with the Spirit of Hope award.