Delbert E. Webb
(May 17 1899
– July 4 1974
) was an American construction
magnate, real estate developer
and sports-team owner who is significant for founding and developing the retirement community
of Sun City
. He was born in Fresno
and dropped out of high school to become a carpenter's apprentice. At the age of 28, he suffered typhoid fever
, and as a result moved to Phoenix
to recover. In 1928, he 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 imprisoned over 17,000 Japanese Americans and at the time was the third largest "city" in Arizona.
He was associated with Howard Hughes and golfed with Hughes, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Robert and Barry Goldwater.
A lifelong baseball fan, in 1945 Del Webb and partners Dan Topping and Larry MacPhail purchased the New York Yankees team in Major League Baseball for $2.8 million. After buying out MacPhail in October 1947, Webb and Topping would remain owners of the Yankees until selling the club to CBS during the 1964 season.
In 1948 in Tucson, Arizona, Webb was contracted to build 600 houses and a shopping center called Pueblo Gardens. This was a prelude to Sun City, Arizona, which was launched January 1, 1960 with five 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.
Webb also developed a chain of motor hotels under the Hiway House name, and built the Las Vegas Flamingo hotel for Bugsy Siegel. He later opened his own casinos, the Sahara and The Mint. Del Webb Middle School, in Henderson, Nevada, opened in 2005.
Webb died at age 75 in Rochester, Minnesota following surgery for lung cancer, less than two months after Topping's death.