Longtime county supervisor dies at 88

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A longtime Riverside County supervisor died earlier this week, the county said Wednesday.

Former second district supervisor Melba Dunlap died Monday, Jan. 12, at the age of 88, according to a statement sent out by Riverside County spokesperson Brooke Federico.

Dunlap served on the county Board of Supervisors from 1983 to 1995, and was only the second woman elected to the board in its history.

“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 current 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.”

Dunlap was born in Higgins, Tex., on March 9, 1931, and moved the Riverside County in 1958 after her husband, Eugene Dunlap Jr., was stationed at March Air Reserve Base. The couple was married for 63 years and lived most of their lives in Riverside, where they raised four children, according to Federico. Eugene Dunlap also worked for the county, doing data processing from 1968 to 1983. He died in 2014.

Melba Dunlap served on the Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee, now known as the Riverside County Transportation Commission, helping to start the county’s first bus system as well as helping to pass Measure A in 1988, the county’s first half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements, Federico said. Dunlap was also a founding member of the Western Riverside Council of Governments.

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

Melba Dunlap is survived by three of her four children: James Dunlap, Melena Bigbee, and David Dunlap, Federico said; one of her sons, Richard Dunlap, died in 1971. The former supervisor is also survived by three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Will Fritz can be reached by email at wfritz@reedermedia.com.