Dale Marr, one of Murieta’s founders, dies at 88

Published Feb. 17, 2006 at RanchoMurieta.com

Dale Marr, the only person with a Murieta street named in his honor, died Monday at his home in Carmichael. He was 88.

For decades, Mr. Marr served as an official with Operating Engineers Local 3. Directed to start an engineers’ training center in the 1960s, Mr. Marr helped the union buy 3,500 acres of ranch land along the Cosumnes River.

The apprentices used their heavy equipment on the land, over the years building roads, lots, an airport, lakes and two golf courses. With their work, the land became Rancho Murieta.

In a 1998 interview, used in a Murieta history that aired on community TV in 2002, Mr. Marr remembered the purchase.

“I first looked at the piece of property in January of ’67,” he said. “(Project manager) Ray Henderson and I came down here. … I originally looked at 2,200 acres. The price was exorbitant, and I told (the sellers) I wouldn’t recommend it, but if they got down into our range, I would. …

“A couple of days later, Ray Henderson called up and said, ‘Maybe we ought to get together.’ And I said, “Well, are you down to a million and a quarter?’ That’s what I told him I’d recommend — a million and a quarter for the 2,200 acres — and he said we could talk about a million-six. …

“(I told him), ‘We can write you a check today for a million and a quarter, and not a penny more,’ and ultimately that’s what we paid for it. …

“Subsequently we picked up a few hundred acres here and there to round out the 3,500 acres we ultimately purchased.”

A fiery union loyalist, he always drove a hard bargain. Even in his latter years, not in the best of health, Mr. Marr rallied to deliver strong speeches at Local 3 gatherings, including the union’s annual picnic at the Rancho Murieta Training Center, next to Rancho Murieta Airport.

Mr. Marr was born in Gladstone, Ore., in 1917. In 1940, he worked days as a dredge operator in the Sacramento Delta, and by night he studied to be an engineer. He started work for Local 3 in 1960 and rose to be its business manager. Later he served as a vice president of the International Union of Operating Engineers and won other national and international honors.

Initially, he was not happy to see the sign on Marr Drive, the tiny spur street next to the Rancho Murieta Association Building.

“I was the vice president of the International, and I did a lot of traveling, all over the Free World, for the International. (After) I was away … I drove in at night and saw that Marr Drive, and I’d liked to had a heart attack,” he recalled in 1998.

“Saturday morning early I called Ray Henderson and said, ‘What is that?’ And he said, ‘Well, we thought it was a nice gesture.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, and it might get me beaten in the next election too. I want that out of there.’ “

In the end, he recalled, the cost of making the change prompted him to leave Marr Drive alone.

Mr. Marr and his first wife, Nellie, were married more than 60 years. She died in 1999. He married Losapina Vaimikolo in 2001. In addition to her, he is survived by dozens of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

Memorial services will be 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, at East Lawn Sierra Hills, 5757 Greenback Lane.

In the 1998 interview, Mr. Marr said Rancho Murieta would serve as an epitaph for many of the Operating Engineers, himself included.

“We ripped out the streets,” he said. “We did the excavation for the pipe – everything here is underground, as it should be – and we built the six lakes. … We did it with trainees, and they were learning to build things. They weren’t just pushing dirt around.

“We have a saying in the Engineers – ‘They’ll never build a monument to the Engineers. We build our own.'”