28 January 2012

Wandering Around Sun City West I


A nice life-size statue of Del Webb stands in front of a big hospital on the corner of Grand and Meeker on the outskirts of Sun City West on far reaches of the northwest Phoenix metropolitan area. I've come across a Del Webb Boulevard, a Performing Arts Center, and I suspect a bunch of other places honoring him. 

He was one of those 'robber barons' of the 20th century who made his fortune in construction. Born in 1899 and died on the 4th of July, 1974 in Rochester, presumably at the Mayo Clinic, after an operation for lung cancer. 

Came from modest circumstances, father a fruit farmer in California, was a high school dropout;  came to Phoenix area in 1928 to start his company after a serious bout of typhoid fever. Did well during WWII, including building a new town for interned Japanese. Others had the idea of an age-restricted community but he figured out how to do it. Sun City opened in 1960 with 100,000 people looking it over on the first weekend. Houses cost less than $10,000 in those days. He sold a ton of them.

He was part owner of the New York Yankees from 1945 to 1964. He paid $2.8 million for his share or maybe that was the whole enchilada. Imagine having Joe Dimaggio, and Mickey Mantle, and Yogi Berra working for you. Must have been quite a guy.

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