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John Moulder; Head of Landscaping Firm

June 15, 1989|BURT A. FOLKART | Times Staff Writer

John Moulder, who began doing gardening for his Glendale neighbors in 1937 and eventually became the dean of the Southern California landscape construction business with such credits as Dodger Stadium, the Music Center, Disneyland's Bear Country and the J. Paul Getty Museum, has died at Glendale Memorial Hospital.

A memorial service for the 81-year-old Moulder, who began Moulder Bros. with his late brother Paul in Glendale as a two-man gardening team, will be held today at 9:30 at the Church of the Recessional, Forest Lawn Memorial-Park, Glendale. He died Friday.

The brothers began commercial landscaping when a home developer asked them to provide the lawns and trees for a small tract he was building in the area.

World War II interrupted their burgeoning but still small business and, while John went to war with the Navy, Paul stayed behind and started a small nursery. By the mid-1950s the brothers had reunited and formed a commercial landscape construction firm.

They began turning drainage ditches into parks and Florida countryside into Florida Sea World.

John Moulder credited shrewd bidding practices and rigid cost-control methods for the brothers' success in a field that boasts as many failures as triumphs.

The company came to be identified primarily with parks, golf courses, sports centers, street improvement, reclamation plants and water projects.

The brothers also did the Security Pacific Plaza in downtown Los Angeles, Heritage Regional Park in Santa Fe Springs, Centennial Regional Park in Santa Ana and the lavish Japanese Gardens at Cal State Long Beach.

John Moulder received dozens of awards for his work over the years, none more than for the Getty Museum in Malibu, where lush plantings are offset by water displays and statuary.

As Moulder's firm grew, so did his personal accomplishments. He became a president of the California Landscape Contractors Assn., president of that group's local chapter and an associate member of the American Institute of Landscape Architects.

On two occasions he accepted awards at the White House for his work.

As contracts neared $300 million, Moulder formed Earthmark Industries in 1987 and Moulder Bros. became a wholly owned subsidiary. That established a program where employees could purchase stock and in time own the company.

Moulder is survived by his wife, Claudine, who asks contributions to the American Cancer Society.

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