History of Del E. Webb
Delbert Eugene Webb was the builder and developer of the Sun Cities. He was born in Fresno, California in 1899. Webb learned carpentry as a hobby, but baseball was his passion. Due to his father's financial difficulties, Webb was forced to quit high school and become a carpenter's apprentice.
In 1927 as a young man, he suffered a violent bout with typhoid fever. His weight dropped from 204 pounds to 99 pounds, and it was a year before he could work. Friends told him to go to Arizona where the climate would get him on his feet again. He arrived in Phoenix and founded his own contracting company in 1928. In just two short years, his business was one of the largest in Arizona.
The war years brought Webb numerous defense contracts and the post-war boom demanded housing, factories, hospitals, etc.
In 1945, Del Webb and a partner bought the New York Yankees, fulfilling a lifetime dream. The Yankees won the World Series 10 times during the 20 years that Webb owned them.
In 1946, Del Webb jumped into what looked like just another building job, the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. Only later did Webb learn on of the owners was underworld figure Bugsy Siegel. Siegel supposedly told Webb that non-gangsters were safe. "Don't worry", he said. "We only kill each other." A few weeks after the Flamingo's grand opening, its notorious owner was shot to death in Beverly Hills.
The military had swelled Tucson's population, so in 1948, Webb was called upon to help solve the housing shortage. The project was names Pueblo Gardens. Webb built a shopping center, a market, drugstore, laundromat and 700 homes.
Webb was getting a name for building communities - a concept in construction and development. The stage was set for the Webb Company to move into an ambitious effort of building a retirement community that would set standards of living for one of the fastest growing segments of the American population.
In 1959, the company purchased 20,000 acres northwest of Phoenix. First came a grocery store, then a drug store, shopping center, recreation center, golf course and finally 5 model homes. When the models opened on New Year's Day, 1960, the sales center was stampeded with 237 homes sold over the weekend. By month's end, the number passed 400. The success in Sun City proved that Webb's new way of life for the retired had been accepted.
Construction began in 1978 for Sun City West and build-out was completed in 1997. Sun City Grand opened for sales in 1996 and build out was in 2006. Corte Bella began in 2003 and Sun City Festival started in 2005.
Over the years, the Del Webb Corporation has built numerous communities from Massachusetts to California and from Illinois to Texas. The Del Webb name is synonymous with premier retirement communities. In July 2001, Pulte Homes acquired the Del Webb Corporation, but has retained he use of the Del Webb name for it's retirement communities.
Delbert Eugene Webb died July 4, 1974.