Farewell to a True Eastside Champion
The trees and fields are shimmering with the new-green of spring, calves are cavorting around their pastures, and there is a light dusting of snow on the mountains that surround our ESLT office. In just a few days I will be marking my one-year anniversary of joining the ESLT family as Executive Director. It’s been an astounding year – one that has been filled with the joy of working each day to preserve this magical landscape that grabbed hold of my heart and spirit so many years ago, and remains as a guiding force in my life. I’ve reconnected with old friends, made new ones, and celebrated as babies were born. We have also felt the deep sadness of loss.
Late last month, one of our dearest friends and supporters, ESLT Board Member Sid Tyler, passed away as a result of injuries he received in a biking accident near his home in Pasadena, California. His death is intensely felt by all of us who knew him, and our hearts go out to Betsey, his wife of 60 years, and to his four grown children.
“With Sid’s passing, many individuals and organizations in Southern California and here in the Eastern Sierra lost one of the finest colleagues we have ever known,” said ESLT’s board President, Tony Taylor. “To have known Sid personally is to have been touched by his warmth and sincerity, his professional and technical expertise, and his impeccable judgment and profound insight on almost any issue.”
Sid and Betsey have visited the Eastern Sierra with their family for decades, and have been involved in numerous environmental and cultural organizations over the years. Serving on the ESLT Board of Directors since 2009, Sid played an instrumental role in shaping our organization’s efforts to preserve his beloved Eastside. He held the positions of Treasurer and Vice President, and made strong contributions as a member of four of our committees.
Sid’s interest in and support of ESLT goes back to his childhood days spent on a family ranch in western Colorado. After his family sold the ranch, a developer acquired the property. On numerous occasions, Sid explained that – through ESLT’s Working Farms and Ranches Program – he wanted to ensure agricultural open space in the Eastern Sierra would be permanently protected from the fate of the family farm he knew as a child.
Sid stepped into the ESLT world with a splash around 2005 as one of the few people to respond to an early membership mailing. Despite our only being about 4 years old, with just two or three projects completed, Sid and Betsey made a very substantial gift to ESLT that gave us the needed support and inspiration to continue on the path toward more land conservation. Sid did not stop there. After getting to know board President Tony Taylor and his wife Sherryl, Sid soon joined the ESLT Board of Directors and became an active, working volunteer. His wise leadership helped us navigate the early years of creating a viable organization; he helped draft needed policies and procedures, create financial systems, hire and guide staff, plan events, and become accredited.
“Sid was always very personable, friendly, and easy to be around,” commented photographer and ESLT co-founder Stephen Ingram. “He always asked how I was doing and what I’d been up to, and seemed genuinely interested in my answer. Sid was quick with a smile. He loved riding his bike around Mammoth, and he’d ride across town from his house in the Knolls to Tony and Sherryl Taylor’s house in the Bluffs for ESLT Finance and Investment Committee meetings. Sid was a great asset to ESLT for his knowledgeable help and for his friendly and cheerful demeanor, and his friends and colleagues profoundly miss him.”
While we think of Sid as our own, he also served as a prominent member of the Pasadena City Council from 1997 to 2009. Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard said of Sid’s passing that, “Pasadena has lost one of its most distinguished and admired citizens… Sid shaped Pasadena as it exists today and we all owe him a debt of gratitude. He was an inspiration to me and all the council members, as well as to many others, and he will always be.”
ESLT co-founder and past Executive Director, Karen Ferrell-Ingram, knew him very well. “He never wavered from his desire to protect more land, engage more landowners, and to work toward preserving what he loved about this place – its wide open ranchland. He really made a difference to the future of the Eastern Sierra and to everyone who loves it by rolling up his sleeves and working hard as a leader, volunteer, donor, and advocate. Thanks to him, the open spaces of this place we love are more secure and the organization he helped create will keep his vision of a thriving, beautiful, and well-protected Eastern Sierra alive far into the future.”
I have a picture of Sid sitting on my desk, and he’s looking at me with that gentle sly smile – still an active force in the day-to-day life here at ESLT. Our ESLT family has lost a beloved member, and we must carry forward Sid’s passion, dedication and determination. Sid, we miss you. And we promise to keep working hard to protect the place that meant so much to you.
Executive Director, ESLT
To read the obituary for Sid Tyler in the Whittier Daily News, please click here.