Alan Furber, a Cloverdale rancher with a firm handshake and a vision for the town's growth, died July 12 after a heart attack. He was 95.
Furber was born July 5, 1918, to William and Marguerite Furber and raised on a 640-acre ranch south of Cloverdale that had been in his family since 1879.
Today, the ranch has been transformed into a shopping center, park and neighborhood imbued with memories of the Furber family in street names such as Marguerite Lane, Elbridge Avenue, William Circle and Wallace Lane.
“We were in the path of progress, and he wanted to be part of that,” said his son, Alan Furber Jr. of Cloverdale.
As an only child, Furber's main chore was to chop enough firewood for the midday meal prepared for the work hands who tended the family's prunes, grapes and sheep. Furber's only sibling, a brother named Wallace, died as a toddler before Furber was born.
Furber's commitment to the Cloverdale community was forged during his youth, as were his views that the town must grow, said his sons, Craig Furber of Healdsburg and Alan Furber Jr.
His family had 200,000 gallons of wine when prohibition passed, forcing them to sell it as vinegar for “pennies to the dollar,” Alan Furber Jr. said.
Furber was active in the theater club at Cloverdale High School and was king of the Citrus Fair in 1935. After graduation, he attended Santa Rosa Junior College.
He served during World War II as a second lieutenant with the Army's 3505th Ordnance Company. While on leave in 1942, Furber married Helen Dubs of Sausalito, whom he had met on a blind date. They had been married nearly 60 years when she died.
After the war, the couple lived in San Rafael and Furber ran a gasoline distributorship. He moved his family north and took over the family ranch after his father died in 1956.
He continued growing fruit and raising sheep. To make ends meet, Furber also did road maintenance on Kelly Road, then a private logging road running from Cloverdale past what is now Lake Sonoma and on to the coast.