Remembering a special person to the city

Photo Courtesy of Julie Lugo Cerra. happy memories—An example of the casual, happy Dale Jones at the marking of the first Historic Site (1928 City Hall) by the CC Historical Society. CAO Dale Jones, lower left with his council L-R, Richard Alexander, Pa

From an interview Jan. 8, 1991

After Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) H. Dale Jones announced his retirement, I had the privilege of interviewing him on Jan. 8, 1991.

Dale told me he came to work for Culver City in December 1960, as an Administrative Ana- lyst for Budget and Purchasing. He worked with then CAO Harry Bond. Dale was quick to remember his service as CAO began in August, 1969. Dale Jones was the second longest-serving CAO in the state, and fifth in the USA on his retirement. He attributed his long tenure to his method of working- “elusive, staying out of politics, getting along with people, working well with staff” and he let staff do their own jobs. Would he do it again? The answer was a quick “yes, I would-it was a good career!” Had Dale planned to serve as a CAO? No, he “wanted to be an FBI man,” for the “intrigue, international work and it appealed to him since he was “service oriented.”

Dale Jones was born in Litch- field Park, Arizona in “the house next door.” His father died six months before Dale was born, and his family sold the house, leaving his mother without a home. Dale said he had a brother, and his mother died three months after she gave birth to Dale. Because his dad belonged to the Masonic lodge in Blythe, he was raised by Masonic homes in California until he was about four. He was moved to a place in El Monte where a woman took care of seven to nine young children, until he ended up in a Masonic home in Covina, where he attended high school.

Once Dale graduated high school, he “had no place to go,” so he joined the Marine Corps where he served four years. He returned to the Masonic home and acted as the Athletic Direc- tor while he looked for a job. He found work at Kaiser Steel as an apprentice ironworker-because his “best friend’s dad was an ironworker.” After “a couple of accidents” that year, Dale set his sights back on school. He attended MSAC, working towards an A.A. As a member of the track and field teams, Dale was second in the state in Javelin, and he was able to transition to USC on a scholarship.

Dale Jones continued with the Javelin while he lived in a boarding house where he noted, “there was a jock in every room.” Although he intended to major in Criminology, Dale graduated in Public Administration. His senior year, he worked for the FBI and his education veered towards law school but he changed his mind after two years.

During a short stint at Standard Oil, Dale became interested in jobs available in Culver City. He applied for a position but after his interview with the city’s CAO, Harry Bond, Mayor Duke Watson, and others, Dale was told that they had “just given it to a guy from UCLA,” but he would “keep him on the list.” When Dale got home that day, Mayor Watson was on the phone, and Dale came to work for Culver City!

Dale shared that he would not change anything in his tenure. He was the second longest-serving CAO in the state, and ranked fifth in the country.

Dale’s response to the future of Culver City predicted a successful “downtown area revitalization,” Direction 21 moving forward, and we are already working on Columbia Studios, (now Sony), the Studio Drive-in redevelopment, Corporate Pointe and Downtown.” (All accomplished, of course!)

I asked Dale to tell me the hardest things he had to deal with during his years as CAO. He thoughtfully offered “gambling issues-Pan in the 1960s and Milton Berle’s proposal later, and the building of a new city hall.” He emphatically said “It’s a good city!” noting the “cooperation between staff, the council and the public.”

Dale felt the greatest city accomplishment during his ten- ure was “Redevelopment- if we didn’t have it, the city would not have been able to do what we have done!” He used Filmland (currently Sony Pictures Plaza) as an example of a good begin- ning for redevelopment in the downtown area. He also cited the joint powers agreement between the city council and the school board, closing of the street for Linwood E. Howe School and the great relationship with the school district in the last 30 years. When asked about politics in his future he just said “never got involved, don’t care for politics” adding he was “too busy” for that.

At that time, Dale Jones could not say where he would live in retirement, just that he wanted to be “close to the ocean and fishing.” How would he spend his time? His answer was “doing charitable work, yard work, tending to orchids, enjoying carpentry refinishing furniture,” and being busy doing what he wanted to do! He would have his “Monday nights FREE!”

Winding down, Dale responded to a question of what he wanted to leave the city. His response was “Knowledge that Dale Jones is not perfect but he did his best.”

When asked what he con- sidered his greatest accomplishment, Dale emphatically responded, his “family and good kids!”

H. Dale Jones focused his service on the Culver City Jaycees, Culver City Lions Club, Culver-Palms Family Y.M.C.A and the Culver City Sister City Committee. He was instrumental in adopting the first orphanage in Uruapan. His volunteer work primarily benefitted families and children.

Julie Lugo Cerra is the city historian. She has written five books.

Remembering a special person to the city