Sebastopol loses Luther Urton
Luther Urton, a Sebastopol native, World War II veteran and longtime trucker for Frizelle-Enos, the local feed store, died Monday at the age of 95.
From his youth through retirement, Urton carried on his family’s working-class legacy. One of four brothers raised on the family farm on Lone Pine Road, he shadowed his father, who captained the steamer ship that carried freight and passengers between Petaluma and San Francisco.
After a year of high school, he began his trucking career in the feed industry and later took his turn managing the family’s small dairy and apple and peach orchard.
The long work days stretched from dawn to a few hours shy of midnight. But they kept him going just as the farm life assured his own two boys stayed out of trouble, relatives said.
“That’s why he lived so long, I think,” said his brother Wyatt Urton of Sebastopol.
His military service was the one notable break in his career. It came around 1942, when he was drafted into the Army. He worked in the motorpool on Saipan, the island base taken over by American marines and soldiers in 1944.
He didn’t talk much about his service, but did tell a few stories about being the driver for the base’s high-ranking officers.
“He got to drive all the big shots around,” said his son Ernie Urton of Santa Rosa.
He returned to Sebastopol in 1946 and resumed work as a trucker for Frizelle-Enos.
“They told him get through with your service, come back and you’ll have a job,” Ernie Urton said. “It was different back then.” He worked for the company for 20 years, until it changed hands in 1966. He then joined the Dairymen’s Feed and Supply Co-Operative in Petaluma, where he worked as a mill hand mixing feed. He retired in the late 1970s.
He married Frances “Susie” Petersen of Sebastopol in 1939. The couple had three children. A year or two after his wife’s death in 2004, he married Stella Cussins of Sebastopol.
He was longtime member of the Sebastopol Grange and was fond of square dancing and fishing. He also plied the waters of Tomales Bay in search of halibut and fished San Pablo Bay for stripped bass.
A likeable man, according to his brother and son, he still wasn’t keen on being outfished. After one especially good day for his boatmates on Tomales Bay, he threatened to turn over his duties at the helm.
“My dad didn’t catch one fish that day,” Ernie Urton said. “He said, ‘The next time, you’re running the boat.’”
In addition to his son Ernie and brother Wyatt, Urton is survived by his wife Stella Urton; son Don Urton of Bend, Ore.; daughter Carolyn Urton of Lake County; eight grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
— Brett Wilkison