Former Second District Supervisor Melba Dunlap passes away at 88 years old


The county’s second female supervisor was active in the growth of the county’s transportation systems

The passing of former Second District Supervisor Melba Dunlap on Monday, Jan. 13, is felt throughout Riverside County. Dunlap was 88 years old and served on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors from 1983 to 1995. She was only the second female elected to the Board of Supervisors.

“Melba Dunlap was a trailblazer who always had a passion to improve the quality of life not just in the district she served, but the entire region,” said Second District Supervisor Karen Spiegel. “She was a role model, mentor and friend to many and her legacy of service to the community will live on for years to come.”

Born on March 9, 1931 in Higgins, Texas, Dunlap moved to Riverside County in 1958 after her husband, Eugene Dunlap, Jr., was stationed at March Air Reserve Base. Married for 63 years, they lived most of their lives in the city of Riverside, where they raised four children. Eugene also worked for the County of Riverside from 1968 – 1983 in data processing and passed away in 2014.

Supervisor Dunlap’s imprint on Riverside County is evidenced in today’s modern transportation system. Having lived in the area for many years, she experienced first-hand the rapid growth of Riverside County and foresaw more on the horizon.

In response, Dunlap served on the Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee, now known as the Riverside County Transportation Commission. She helped start the county’s first bus system, which is now the Riverside Transportation Agency. She was instrumental in the passage of Measure A in 1988, which was Riverside County’s first half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements.

Dunlap was a founding member of the Western Regional Council of Governments (WRCOG). In 2012, she received the Patricia Ann Wilson Outstanding Community Service Award from WRCOG at its 21st Annual General Assembly.

Dunlap is survived by three of her four children: James Dunlap, Melena Bigbee, and David Dunlap. One of her sons, Richard Dunlap, passed away in 1971. She is also survived by three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren who brought her so much joy.

Submitted by Riverside County Board of Supervisors