Delbert Eugene Webb
May 17, 1899
|Died||July 4, 1974 (aged 75)|
|Occupation||Real estate developer|
|Spouse(s)||Hazel Lenora Church (1919–1952)|
Toni Ince Webb (1961–1974)
Delbert Eugene Webb (May 17, 1899 – July 4, 1974) was an American real estate developer, and a co-owner of the New York Yankees baseball club. He is known for founding and developing the retirement community of Sun City, Arizona, and for many works of his firm, Del E. Webb Construction Company.
Webb was born in Fresno, California, to Ernest G. Webb, a fruit farmer, and Henrietta S. Webb. He dropped out of high school to become a carpenter's apprentice, and in 1919, he married Hazel Lenora Church, a graduate nurse. In 1920, Webb was a ship fitter, and they were living with his parents and two younger brothers in Placer County, California. At the age of 28, he suffered typhoid fever, and as a result moved to Phoenix, Arizona, to recover.
In 1928, Webb began his namesake company which was a construction contractor. He received many military contracts during World War II, including the construction of the Poston War Relocation Center near Parker. Poston interned over 17,000 Japanese-Americans and at the time was the third largest "city" in Arizona. Webb was associated with Howard Hughes and played golf with Hughes, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Barry Goldwater.
A former semi-professional baseball player and a lifelong fan, Webb and partners Dan Topping and Larry MacPhail purchased the New York Yankees in 1945 for $2.8 million from the estate of Col. Jake Ruppert Jr. After buying out MacPhail in October 1947, Webb and Topping remained owners of the Yankees until selling the club to CBS in 1964. During those 20 seasons, the Yankees were in 15 World Series and won 10 of them.
In 1946 and 1947, mob boss Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel hired Webb as the general contractor for the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. After boasting about his claim that he had personally killed 16 men, Siegel said to Webb, "Del, don't worry, we only kill each other."
In 1948, Webb was contracted to build 600 houses and a shopping center called Pueblo Gardens in Tucson, Arizona. San Manuel, Arizona, a mining company town and currently a resort town, followed. Established in 1953, the town was built by Webb (along with M.O.W. Homes Inc.) for The Magma Copper Company. It required the building of streets, shopping centers, schools, a hospital and parks. This was a prelude to Sun City, Arizona, which was launched January 1, 1960, with five home models, a shopping center, recreation center and golf course. The opening weekend drew 100,000 people, ten times more than expected, and resulted in a Time magazine cover story. In between these two projects, in 1951, Webb was given the huge contract to build the Hughes Missile Plant (now Raytheon) in Tucson, Arizona.
In 1919, Webb married his childhood sweetheart, Hazel Lenora Church. They divorced in 1952. In 1961, Webb married Toni Ince, then aged 41, a buyer for Bullocks Wilshire department store in Los Angeles. Toni Ince Webb lived in Beverly Hills, California, until her death in 2008.
Death and legacy
Webb was elected to the Gaming Hall of Fame in 2000. The Del Webb Middle School, named in his honor, opened in Henderson, Nevada, in 2005. A charitable foundation named for him funds medical research in Nevada, Arizona, and California. A main thoroughfare in Sun City is named Del Webb Boulevard.
- Sun City Center, Florida
- Sun City Palm Desert, California
- Sun City Summerlin, Nevada
- Sun City Texas Georgetown, Texas
- "Webb, 75, dies; owned Yankees". Milwaukee Journal. (Los Angeles Times). July 5, 1974. p. 15, part 2.
- "AL approves sale of Yankees to CBS". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. August 14, 1964. p. 2, part 2.
- Jennings, We Only Kill Each Other. (1992). p. 17
- The Green Felt Jungle
- "Del Webb Corporation History". Retrieved December 28, 2017.
- "Mine Tales: San Manuel was once world's largest underground copper mine". April 14, 2014. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
- "History of the San Manuel-Kalamazoo Mine, Pinal County, Arizona" (PDF). Retrieved December 29, 2017.
- Trolander, Judith Ann (2011). "Age 55 or Better: Active Adult Communities and City Planning". Journal of Urban History. 37 (6): 952–974. doi:10.1177/0096144211418435.
- David Leighton, The History of the Hughes Missile Plant in Tucson, 1947-1960, Private Publication, 2015 [Page 5]
- "Modern Living: Man on the Cover: Del Webb". Time. August 3, 1962. Retrieved May 13, 2012.
- "The Gaming Hall of Fame". University of Nevada Las Vegas. Retrieved August 30, 2009.