Lynn Newcomb, Jr. left a mark in the foothills, not just by developing Mt. Waterman and Newcomb’s Ranch, but also by touching the hearts and lives of neighbors, friends, family and even lunching motorcyclists.
Newcomb died Monday in Bishop, Calif. He was 91.
“Mt. Waterman would be just another plain old mountain without him,” Darrell Martinelli said of Newcomb.
Martinelli was 5-years-old when he met Newcomb at the mountain where he learned to ski. While a student at , Martinelli took his first paying job with Newcomb, running a ski lift on the slopes. More than two decades later, Martinelli works and lives at Newcomb Ranch.
“Without the things he left, I would not be here. I would not be the person I am today,” Martinelli said.
The Newcomb Ranch Inn was built by Newcomb’s father, Lynn Newcomb Sr., in 1939, but the property was utilized by the family for many years previous, according to the Newcomb's Ranch website.
Newcomb Jr. took over responsibilities for the ranch following his father’s death in 1945, rebuilding it after a 1976 fire and transforming it into the restaurant we know today. The property has been owned and operated by Dr. Fred Rundall since 2001.
But Mt. Waterman may be considered Newcomb’s greatest accomplishment and gift.
In 1939, while enrolled at USC, Newcomb frequented the Mt. Waterman area and through a series of clever and shrewd business negotiations, managed to have the land cleared and wood hauled away with unpaid labor and resources from CalTrans and the Forest Service.
California’s first toe rope opened Mt. Waterman to skiers, followed by a lift two years later in 1941. While the resort was sold in both 2000 and 2001, Newcomb continued to visit. His love for the mountain inspired him to tile the resort’s logo on the bottom of the pool at his La Canada Flintridge home.
“He loved talking to people,” Martinelli said of Newcomb’s habit of drawing a crowd while stopping by Newcomb’s Ranch. “Not for recognition or fame, he just loved people.”
“His lifeblood was watching people enjoy the forest,” said , Reserve Chief of Search and Rescue for Los Angeles County and member of Montrose Search and Rescue.
“He loved being up there, always had a smile on his face.” Leum also noted that Newcomb went above and beyond to assist rescuers, providing use of facilities and lifts even in the middle of the night.
“He was more a friend than anything else,” Martinelli said. “That guy was like a grandfather to me. He’s more than that – mentor, employee, boss, grandpa I didn’t have. Yep, he’s my friend.”
A Facebook memorial page has been set up in Newcomb’s honor, and pages for both Newcomb’s Ranch and Mt. Waterman are filled with condolence messages and anecdotes. A memorial service will be held Sept. 18 at 1 p.m. at the .