Sun Cities Today Blog

Welcome to the communities that changed a nation!


One of the earliest tools we learned in recovery was the idea we should take a “fearless and moral inventory.” Yikes, scary stuff. Mine was less than perfect, but nonetheless i’ve stayed sober for more than 35 years now. I attribute it in part to the idea i need to monitor  my behavior closely. I need admit when i screw up, do poorly and have to say i’m sorry. It helps me keep the demons off the doorstep and bring a little humility to how i exist. For others it may not be necessary, but i find it keeps me real.

It is a challenge; who wants to look in the mirror and see those nasty blemishes, 30 pounds of unwanted tonnage or hair falling out as we sit at the computer (those are all just metaphors for my real shortcomings, though i hate to admit it, i think i have much of that baggage as well). Plus, i’m plagued by my inability to get right to the point in almost any topic/blog post and just wander aimlessly as i recant my wildly outrageous reflections of who i am, how i got here and where i think i/we are going.

Let me get to it and i will be explicitly blunt…we rededicated the sundial at the Sundial Rec Center this morning and my presentation sucked. Ouch, that does hurt. I have long said i never met a microphone i didn’t love, but this morning’s brief presentation left me feeling empty and unable to live up to the task i had. I can find all kinds of excuses to shift the blame, but in the end, it was simply me. I never felt comfortable and i was so conscious of trying to keep it under 5 minutes i just plain choked. I know better and preparation is always the key.

I knew where i wanted to go, i just didn’t get there. I know better than anyone you can’t tell the history of Sun City in 5 minutes or less. There’s not enough information regarding the actual sundial itself, so i wanted to use the monument as a testimony to the brilliance of John Meeker. It is that bit of history that far too people know. Everyone has focused their time and energy on Del Webb. He was without question the man behind it all, but in this case, we need lose sight of the big picture Webb and study the smaller picture of DEVCO and the people behind it. No one was more significant in the Sun City story than Del Webb’s caddy from the 1940’s, John Meeker.

He was brought in in 1965 as Sun City was barely breathing. The three guys behind the start of the community (Jacobson, Breen and Ashton) refused to alter their direction of marketing to low to middle class retirees. Webb saw the handwriting on the wall and replaced them with Meeker. He began the resurrection with steps as simple as listening to what people living here said they wanted. He created a sense of community and built brand loyalty. Along the way he turned Sun City into a money-making proposition that has stood the test of time.

The sundial at the Sundial Rec Center typifies why Meeker was a genius, but then so does the Sun Bowl amphitheatre, the Lakeview Rec Center, Viewpoint lake, Boswell Hospital, the Lakes Club, (now gone), the Bell Rec Center and countless other larger than life projects he took on. He wasn’t afraid to invest both money and time into the community in ways no one else would have ever thought of doing. He was that important to Sun City’s successes, and darned if i didn’t do a crappy job of making that point this morning. My apologies to both the late Mr. Meeker and to those in attendance at the rededication this morning.

Good to know i still make mistakes and better to know i can still admit to them. Life is all about growing and there’s nothing worse than to see those who think they know it all or are above getting better.

Let me close by just saying; Del Webb was the Man (capital M intended). Given my druther, if i could go back in time and interview anyone from those early Sun City years, it would easily be John Meeker.


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