Jean Boyd (Daily Pilot / June 28, 2011)

The woman known to many area residents as "Mrs. Santa Claus" has died.

Jean Mallow Boyd, a longtime Corona del Mar resident, was 87.

For years during the holidays, she flew in an AirBorne Law Enforcement helicopter to Newport-Mesa Unified elementary schools. Dressed as Kris Kringle's wife, Boyd would greet children and deliver candy.

Her petite stature — she was 4-feet-6 — made her an ideal Mrs. Claus, said niece Carol Jean Wilson, who lives in Michigan.

"She was a neat lady — a little tiny thing," Wilson said.

Boyd became a single mother after her husband, Gordon L. Boyd, died when their daughter was 3.

Her husband's death did not deter her from becoming involved in the community. Boyd served as a Neighborhood Watch chairwoman and volunteered for the Sherman Library & Gardens, Wilson said.

Boyd also started a local Camp Fire Girl group where her daughter, Bonnie Jean Boyd-Orlando, met her best friend 50 years ago. She was also active in Newport Beach churches, said Boyd-Orlando, who lives in Seattle.

After a man mugged her outside her home, Boyd was impressed with the response of Newport Beach police and decided to volunteer there as well, Wilson said.

The incident "freaked her out, but she got herself really involved in the Police Department," Wilson said.

Those in the department remember Boyd's passionate activism and kindness.

"She was just a sweetheart of a lady," said Kathy Lowe, a Newport police representative who remembers Boyd as a police advocate. "We were just so sad when we heard that" she died.

Lowe said Boyd brought baked goods to the department for the officers.

Even into retirement, Boyd continued her activism and volunteering, and became involved with the OASIS Senior Center.

Originally from Washington Court House, Ohio, Boyd spent more than 40 years at her home on Poinsettia Avenue.

On June 8, Boyd died of natural causes at Crown Cove, a local senior living home.