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Happy Birthday, Mr. Mayor

Published on Saturday, January 18, 2014 | 8:42 am

Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard celebrated his 76th birthday on January 18, 2014. Pasadena Now’s Rachel Young sat down with the Bogaards for a look back over the years with Pasadena’s most admired resident.


Born to a bread salesman and a beauty salon owner in his family home at 612 W. 4th Street in Sioux City, Iowa in 1938, Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard had a modest upbringing in a small midwestern town.

“He still acts like the boy from Sioux City, Iowa I say sometimes. He lives very simply and doesn’t like to go out and buy expensive clothes or spend a lot of money. Mid-westerners are very friendly, outgoing, friends-for-life kind of people and I think he reflects that,” Claire Bogaard said in musings about her husband’s background.

Bogaard himself described growing-up as being a bit of a loner who had many friends, never fully letting his guard down among them. Even in those days he had a strong conscience that was shaped by a fateful day.

The setting of the scene was a routine afternoon on a corner where young Bill would wait for newspapers to be wrapped so he could deliver the papers to his neighborhood. That day he was talking with a friend.

“I was demonstrating to him how I pitched baseball, including turning at the last second to pick something off first base or second base. I had a rock in my hand and I was standing in the corner. When I turned and threw, it smashed into the window of the grocery store across the street,” Bogaard said as he remembered the story.

The storeowner immediately called his home.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen because my father was strict. I was just shattered and so concerned. Apparently I came through to my father as being truly sorry,” Bogaard said.

His father reimbursed the grocer, but never emphasized the incident as a mistake or punished Bill beyond the agony he put himself through. The memory and the lesson of that day remain fresh in Bogaard’s mind.

Bogaard detested the nickname he was given as young man by his relatives — Billy Joe. Billy Joe played on the varsity basketball team for three years and dabbled in baseball and football. He also had his own amount of rebellion.

“I drank my share of beer in high school – the price to buy a beer was lower in Nebraska and in South Dakota. Sioux City was at the point where you go across one bridge into South Dakota and go across another bridge into Nebraska. So in high school, we would go typically to Jefferson’s across the bridge and buy a beer there, but none of that led to any particular serious accident,” Bogaard said.

Bogaard quickly grew out of that stage when he served in the military for three years after studying literature and philosophy at Loyola Marymount University. Bogaard looks fondly back at his years an Air Force Captain for two reasons—the location and the newly wedded wife.

“That whole time in Morocco was like an extended honeymoon, it was just worry free, absolute happiness, almost blissful – we just enjoyed ourselves so much,” Claire remembered.

Trained to be a meteorologist before he left the U.S., Bogaard broadcasted to U.S. Air Force planes in Casablanca. The hours were odd, allowing the smitten couple to explore Europe on free plane fares.

Spain was the most often destination of their choice, which makes it no surprise that two of the Bogaards’ daughters now live in Spain.

Claire of course stands her own ground and fights her own battles in the City of Pasadena. Claire and Bill have a relationship of mutual understanding and support that has sustained their marriage for more than 50 years.

“I would say that we probably both have some traits of strong-mindedness and so on. So I think the secret to our success is that we’ve allowed each other to have enough room to have views and to pursue activities. It’s a matter of accommodating the other’s interests,” Bill said.

The couple first met on a blind date of sorts just before Bill’s college graduation. They found each other “most interesting,” but Bill thought he would be going a far distance for his military assignment. Much to his surprise he returned on an assignment to UCLA, called Claire up, and they have been “going steady” ever since, he says.

Their engagement at a park above the Spanish Steps in Rome tops it off. Two months later they were married in San Francisco, Claire’s hometown.

“Once I got to know him, he did have a wonderful sense of humor that I enjoyed. We had a number of mutual friends that we discovered and he’s just a very decent, hard-working, committed kind of person. It’s a pleasure to be with him and he’s kind and he’s not a confrontational-when-angry person, so we’ve gotten along well ever after,” Claire said.

The dreamer, developer and sustainer of Pasadena has no shortage of fans who admire him and wish him happy birthday.


“If there’s a hall of fame for Pasadena — and I’m talking about the almost 130-year history of the city — at the very, very top, that’s where you’ll find Bill and Claire Bogaard. I don’t think there’s a couple that’s had a greater positive impact on the city of Pasadena in its entire history than Bill and Claire. In terms of every metric that you would judge a public official — integrity, intelligence, dedication, morals, ethics, workload and work ethic — he’s a perfect 10 across the board.”  — District 6 Councilmember Steve Madison


“I hold him in very high regard because of his personal integrity and dedication to the city as well as his skill as mayor of the city for all these years. I enjoy sharing ideas, I don’t always agree, but I think his motives are extremely positive. He is a tremendous conciliator and has the ability to reconcile the divergent of opinions. He is a natural born mediator; I think it’s in his DNA. I think he really in many ways personifies some of the best qualities of Pasadena.  Sometimes I think he’s a little too cautious, I don’t want it to sound like he is perfect, because he’s not. He could use the office of mayor in a little more aggressive way. He has a tremendous trove of political capital and I don’t think he’s spending it fast enough. All that to say Bill is a hell of a nice a guy and fundamentally a gentleman.”  — District 7 Councilmember Terry Tornek


“He is not looking to advance himself in the political world he wants to do what’s right for the city of Pasadena today.”  — Son Matt Bogaard at the Union Station awards ceremony in 2013


“He has brought a level of civility to the political arena in Pasadena. He listens to all views and gives proper respect to all views, obviously some which are not his own. This is what democracy should be about so we appreciate that about Mayor Bogaard.” — Dr. Harlan Bixby

“He is a man who does his job very well. I have nothing to say against him, but I do regret that he stopped the Walks with the Mayor he had once a month.” — Boualem Bousseloub


“He’s an extraordinary leader. He holds people accountable for performance because he’s a high performer himself. And he also has the courage to stick up for staff particularly the police department when it’s appropriate as well. It continues to be an exceptional journey and under his leadership and stewardship along with the council and the city manager, I think the City of Pasadena delivers extraordinary services bar none.” — Chief of Police Phillip Sanchez



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