Dusty Destruel, a widely beloved pillar of Santa Rosa whose family-owned lumber and construction-supply company has played a large role in the growth of Sonoma County for 102 years, died Monday.
Destruel, who succeeded his father at the helm of Mead Clark Lumber and about 20 years ago sold the firm to his two sons, was 87.
He was a standout athlete at Santa Rosa High School and at the University of Santa Clara. During World War II, he served in the Navy in the South Pacific. As a businessman, his handshake was as good a gold and his generous granting of credit or loans made all the difference to builders who struggled through hard times.
“He’d carry them and bring them out of the doldrums,” said longtime friend and occasional business partner Lee Farris.
“This guy was a real cornerstone of our community,” added Farris, owner of the Sebastopol Golf Course. “I tell you, he was a very special person. There’s not many of the old style around town anymore.”
Apart from being a smart and giving businessman, Destruel was an exceptional golfer, a big-game hunter and a fierce player of gin rummy.
“Dusty was outstanding in almost every way,” said Jim Codding, a friend since he and Destruel played high school football on opposing teams. “In business, and he was a great hunter and fisherman.”
“He always gave more than he ever asked for.”
Friends and relatives said that, above all, Destruel loved his family.
He lost his heart to Rosemary Pickard at Santa Rosa High and they married in 1948 at St. Rose Catholic Church. They had three children and a full life. Dusty Destruel cared for Rosemary throughout a long struggle with cancer that ended with her death in September.