PALM DESERT (CNS) – Former Riverside County Supervisor Patricia “Corky” Larson, for whom the Indio courthouse is named, died today at her Palm Desert home at the age of 92.
Local officials and agencies representing the Coachella Valley lauded her many years of public service, which included three terms each on the Board of Supervisors and the Coachella Valley Water District board and two terms on the Palm Springs school board.
“I, along with my family, join in sending condolences to the Larson family, and remember Corky Larson as a tough advocate for eastern Riverside County in ensuring we get our fair share,” said Supervisor Manuel Perez, who represents the Fourth District Larson oversaw from 1982 to 1994.
Larson got her start in local politics in the ’70s, serving on the Palm Springs Unified School District board before running for the Board of Supervisors.
During her time on the county board, she helped complete the first regional plan — and the second in the nation — for conservation of an endangered species, the 1986 Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard Habitat Plan.
She was elected to the board of the Coachella Valley Water District in 2000, and was reelected two times before stepping down in 2012.
“I am very saddened to hear about her death and am grateful I got to know her,” said CVWD board President John Powell Jr. “Corky was a mentor to me. She was one of the top leaders in the Valley during my lifetime.”
Larson’s successes while on the water board included increasing water conservation efforts, including a program that offers customers incentives to convert their landscaping to be more water efficient, according to district officials.
Larson, whose family has long been involved in agriculture in the region, was a founding member of California Women for Agriculture. She ran for Congress in 1994, but lost in the Republican primary to Sonny Bono, who went on to win that contest.
Flags at all county facilities were ordered lowered to half-staff through Monday in honor of Larson, who had six children and 26 grandchildren.
Palm Springs city spokeswoman Amy Blaisdell said in a Facebook post that Larson “will be greatly missed by the many Coachella Valley residents whose lives she touched and helped make better during her many years of public service to the Coachella Valley and Riverside County.”
“Many of my generation here in the Coachella Valley grew up with Corky’s grandchildren — and the Larson family has long been known for agriculture,” Blaisdell wrote. “However, Corky had a passion for public service, and was not content to be a housewife. During her four decades of public service she became a force to be reckoned with — and an incredible role model for so many of our Coachella Valley women leaders serving today.”
Blaisdell said that while serving on the Board of Supervisors, Larson pursued a longtime dream of going to law school, graduating in 1990 from Citrus Belt Law School in Riverside, and was admitted to the State Bar of California.
She was instrumental in the expansion of the courthouse in Indio, which is now named the Larson Justice Center in her honor.
Following her service as supervisor, Larson was the executive director of the Coachella Valley Association of Governments for eight years and briefly served as the interim city attorney and interim city manager of Desert Hot Springs.
She was a founding member of the Salton Sea Authority and served on numerous boards and commissions, including the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy Board.