YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Jack Dutton, 92; Anaheim Leader Helped Lure Angels


Jack Cottrell Dutton, the former Anaheim mayor credited with playing a key role in bringing the Angels baseball team to town and building one of the busiest convention centers in the nation, has died. He was 92.

Dutton died June 15 at West Anaheim Medical Center after a brief bout with pneumonia.

He was a successful entrepreneur who kept exotic animals--including a bear, lion and ostrich--at his restaurant.

Family and friends nicknamed him "John Wayne Dutton" for his contagious smile and earnest charm. "He was a modern-day P.T. Barnum," said his stepdaughter, Cathy Dutton of Anaheim.

A star baseball player at Anaheim High School, Dutton never gave up his love for the game.

Dutton served as an Anaheim councilman from 1962 to 1970 and then served a four-year term as mayor. During his time on the council, the members approached Gene Autry with the proposal that he bring his Los Angeles Angels to Anaheim. Autry would, if the city would build a stadium.

The city council agreed, and Dutton and Autry shook hands on the deal to move the team, renamed the California Angels, to the city at the start of the 1966 season.

"He was very much the old-fashioned, take-charge type of person. He believed your word was your bond and a handshake was all you needed; you didn't need all these attorneys. And that's what he liked about Gene Autry, he was a man of his word," Cathy Dutton said.

A bond was passed to fund the stadium, now known as Edison International Field, and the Anaheim Convention Center, located near Disneyland. The decision drew public outrage because it increased taxes.

"Jack used to say, 'There is no security on this Earth, only opportunity,' " said Dutton's longtime friend Tom Liegler, former general manager for the stadium and convention center.

"He looked at the stadium and convention center as two gigantic memorials of the council's vision back in the 1960s," Liegler said.

An Anaheim native, Dutton was raised on his grandmother's ranch after his parents divorced. He started his business career by selling wiping rags to service stations, shipyards and oil refineries. The business had made him a millionaire by his 40s and he retired early.

In 1951, he founded Jungle Gardens and the Palms Restaurant, a nightspot with a lush tropical garden, where luaus for up to 1,500 people were held.

Dutton married twice. He is survived by his wife, Kay, two children and three stepchildren, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

A public memorial is planned at 11 a.m. Saturday at Edison Field. The Dutton family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Anaheim Local History Room. Checks can be made out to Anaheim Public Library Gift Fund and sent to Jack Dutton Gift Fund, c/o Anaheim Public Library, 500 W. Broadway, Anaheim, CA 92805.

Los Angeles Times Articles