Del Webb

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For the firm, see Del E. Webb Construction Company

Delbert Eugene "Del" Webb (May 17, 1899 – July 4, 1974, aged 75) 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.

Early years

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, Arizona. 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 Robert and Barry Goldwater.

A lifelong baseball fan, in 1945, Webb and partners Dan Topping and Larry MacPhail purchased the New York Yankees 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.

In 1946 and 1947, Jewish American New York mob boss Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel hired Webb as a construction foreman for the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. After boasting about his claim that he'd personally killed some men, Siegel once said to Webb, "Del, don't worry, we only kill each other."[1][2]

In 1948, Webb was contracted to build 600 houses and a shopping center called Pueblo Gardens in Tucson, Arizona. 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.[3]

Webb also developed a chain of motor hotels under the “Hiway House” name, more "formal" hotels called "Del Webb's Towne House", and in addition to buliding the Flamingo for Siegel later owned his own casinos, the Sahara and The Mint in Las Vegas, and the Sahara Tahoe at Stateline, Nevada.

Webb was elected to the Gaming Hall of Fame in 2000.[4] The Del Webb Middle School, named in his honor, opened in Henderson, Nevada in 2005.

Webb died at age 75 in Rochester, Minnesota at the Mayo Clinic, following surgery for lung cancer, less than two months after Topping’s death.

A charitable foundation named for him funds medical research in Nevada, Arizona and California.

Personal life

In 1919, Webb married his childhood sweetheart, Hazel Lenora Church. They divorced in 1952. In 1961, Webb married Toni Ince (aged 41), a buyer for Bullock's-Wilshire department store in Los Angeles.[5] Toni Ince Webb (January 24, 1921 – July 10, 2008) lived in Beverly Hills, California until her death.

See also


  1. Jennings, We Only Kill Each Other. (1992). p. 17
  2. The Green Felt Jungle
  3. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "The Gaming Hall of Fame". University of Nevada Las Vegas. Retrieved 2009-08-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Modern Living: Man on the Cover: Del Webb". Time. 3 August 1962. Retrieved 13 May 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links