Hinckley, Horace P. (1909-1991)

REDLANDS – Horace P. Hinckley, who became known as “Mr. Water” throughout the valley because of his expertise and lifetime of work with local water systems and organizations, died about 4 this morning in Redlands from complications sustained from a stroke June 9. He was 82. A native of Redlands, he was born Jan. 7, 1909, into a family involved early with citrus and always concerned and involved with water in this valley. He served as manager of the Bear Valley Mutual Water Co. from 1945 to 1983, and as manager emeritus since then.


In 1987, the City of Redlands named its largest water treatment plant in his honor. “With the death of Horace Hinckley, Redlands loses the man who knew more about local water matters than any other person.” said Frank E. Moore, former editor of the Redlands Daily Facts. “His education began in childhood because his father, George Hinckley, was city engineer and, in effect, chief of water affairs. It broadened when he made a survey of all wells in the valley for the Water Conservation District.” “He was ripe for the managership of the Bear Valley Mutual Water Co. when that opportunity opened,” Moore said. “In short , he carried the institutional memory of thousands of water matters in his head and could be consulted by one and all.” Donald S.C.Anderson, who served on the Redlands City Council from 1952 to 1956, said Hinckley “knew more about the water situation in the valley than any living person. He grew up with it and was raised in a situation where water was a primary concern of the valley.”


John Shone, general manager of the Bear Valley Mutual Water Co., said Hinckley “shaped the water history of Redlands and was instrumental at providing water at economic cost to keep the orange groves in business for many years.” Shone said, “He was probably one of the foremost authorities in the water history of the area. His is going to be a great losss to us as he knew the history and all the people involved in the water problems in the last 50 years. It is a great loss to Bear Valley and to the people of Redlands.”


Hinckley’s grandfather Frank Hinckley settled in this area shortly after the Civil War. In addition to his city engineer father, Hinckley’s mother, Edith Parker Hinckley, was a Redlands historian who wrote a number of books, including “On the Banks of the Zanja.” Hinckley graduate from Redlands High School in 1925 and later from Stanford and Cornell where he earned his degree in civil engineering. During the Depression years, he designed the tower at the Asistencia and marshaled WPA crews to build flood control dikes still in use in the Santa Ana wash.

Following the disastrous floods of 1938, Hinckley was instrumental in the formation of the San Bernardino County Flood Control District. In 1931 he engineered and expanded the water spreading works for the handling of storm waters from Etiwanda and Day Creek Canyons. He served as the chief engineer for the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District for many years. He also served on the board of the directors of the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District from its inception in 1954 to 1967.


Hinckley was an active member of the Redlands Noon Kiwanis Club which he served for 56 years, including as president in 1956. He served the community with Boy Scout work; membership in the Redlands Area Historical Society, the Friends of the A.K. Smiley Public Library, the Redlands Horticultural and Improvement Society, the Friends of the University of Redlands and the Forum; and as a member of the Redlands United Church of Christ.


For most of his life, he was married to Julia Hinckley, who was a public school teacher and counselor. Together they traveled around the world four times. He was also married five years to Barbara Abele Hinckley. He is survived by one sister, Irene Kupfer of Redlands; three sons, Bradford Hinckley of Modesto, Clive Hinckley of Redlands, and Bruce Hinckley of Glendale; and four grandchildren.


Memorial services will be held Saturday, July 13 at 1:30 p.m. at the United Church of Christ, corner of Olive Avenue and Bellevue. Private interment will be at Hillside Memorial Park, with Weaver Mortuary of Beaumont in charge of arrangements.


The family suggest that memorial contributions may be made to the Kiwanis Foundation or the Redlands United Church of Christ.


[Source: Obituary for Horace P. Hinckley, The Redlands Daily Facts, July 10, 1991.]