Marty was Remarkable – and so much more.
I asked about 20 people to give me 4-8 words that describe Marty, I got 150 adjectives. By and large, they all fit under one theme, I will call that “Mayor Marty”. Charismatic, caring, giving, charming, gregarious, welcoming, people smart, loyal, remembered every name and detail – and a lot of other words are summed up in “Mayor Marty”.
Mayor Marty was born with an amazing memory; he could remember names, dates, careers, spouses, colleges, kids, kids’ colleges, sports, pets, hometowns friends and more; an amazing amount of information about everyone.
Marty was a networker; he used his great people and memory skills to connect us all in one giant network generally referred to as “FOM”.
I was always a duffer at golf, I struggled to keep up and not delay the group behind us. Yet, Marty invariably would see someone he knew on another hole and drive me and the cart over to make the introduction. “Dave, you remember Joe. You met him at so and so event. Joe, remember Dave, he was at so and so game”. Neither Joe nor I had any idea who the other other person was, but we acted like we did – and tried to remember each other’s name, at least until we left the club house. I think I was the one who came up with the now famous “Two Fairway Rule”, which read “no golfer may cross more than two fairways to shake hands”.
Mayor Marty’s people skills came by nature – and nurture. Grandma was part of RJ Daley’s famous Chicago Political Machine, responsible for the Irish Catholic South Side of Chicago. Her business was to know everybody, and everything that was happening. Among other things, Grandma was the City Movie Sensor, no movies were shown in Chicago without her approval. Marty got to see all the movies before they were release in the theaters.
Edith, his mom, was cut from the same cloth. She always welcomed all of Marty’s friends to come and hang out – and to stay for dinner. The Ruberry dining table was a stable for all the stray kids in the neighborhood, even though Edith was not really known for her culinary skills. During Marty’s entire adult life, he has never eaten meatloaf or liver and onions again – or said anything positive about his mother’s cooking.
Edith; like her son Marty, took care of people. Thanks to Grandma, Marty’s dad was an electrician for the City of Chicago – and he liked to stop by the bar after work and have a beer or two. He often caught the last train home – Edith would get a call “Your husband is asleep on the train at the end of the line, come pick him up”. Of course, Edith did.
Marty played baseball for Brother Rice High. Marty not only knew everyone at Brother Rice, but he knew most of the players on the opposing team. Jim Henry’s High School baseball team played Brother Rice in a championship game. The only thing Jim remembers about Marty from Chicago is that Marty introduced himself to all the members of the opposing team, Jim’s team – and knew most of them.
Mayor Marty was Planner. His Rolodex was unmatchable. Somehow the yellow post-it notes in his office kept anything from falling through a crack. He was always 3 steps ahead. He was in charge, even when he wasn’t in charge – he knew how he felt things should be – for all of us – and could cajole us into believing it was our idea.
When Marty was 48 he told me that the biggest thing on his bucket list for his 50th birthday was to play golf at Augusta – and that he felt I was his best path to making that happen. I knew little about golf and even less about Augusta, so about 6 months before Marty’s 50th birthday, I asked my assistant, Gwen, to “call Augusta and make a reservation for Marty and me”. Gwen later explained to me that that was not the way it worked. Marty’s 50th came and went with no Augusta – and Marty didn’t seem to mind.
Two years later, while I was President of Nortel, I was playing golf with a customer, the CEO of Williams Communications, when he asked me “Have you ever played August?”. I walked up right to him, put my face in his face, and said “I would give my left arm – to play Augusta – with my best friend”. He later told me that – “at that moment Ian Craig’s game flew out the window and your friends game flew in”. We played several rounds on Augusta’s regular course and one on the par three course when Marty was 52. Marty knew how to get what he wanted.
Marty knew how to get what he wanted without being a burden one anyone. When playing in the NEC Pro- Amateur Golf Tournament at Silverado, I called Marty and said, “Guess who our pro is tomorrow?” Marty asked “Who?”, I replied “Arnold Palmer”. Without a hesitation Marty replied, “Guess who your caddie is?” “Who?” I replied. “Marty Rubery” was his response. The next morning Marty paid off my assigned caddie and pick up my bag.
Most of us know Marty from the golf course, trips and parties. Many of us don’t know that Marty’s people skills, his planning skills and his organizational skills made him first a great manager, then a a very successful CEO.
In 1971, right out of graduate school with degrees in Recreation Management, Marty became Park Manager in Florida with 30 employees to manage. In 1973 he was recruited to Sunnyvale where he became Superintendent of Recreation. Marty spent 11 years at Sunnyvale as his team grew to more than 200 part-time and full-time employees and his budget grew to more than $2M.
I met Marty in 1975 at the Supreme Court. Not the legal one, the racquetball one. When Marty joined the Supreme Court there were about a dozen players who played at 6 am. Racquetball players are familiar with the 2“ circle that starts red and turns to purple, then green, and finally yellow about a week later, the result of getting struck by a well hit ball. Marty’s great eye/hand coordination made him a good player and he was very competitive, especially near the end of the game – but he hated those war wounds, so his rule was “if you think you are going to hit me, don’t take the swing, just take the point”.
From 1975 until about the early 1980’s, Marty was just one of many 6 am racquetball competitors and we still knew very little about each other. One day in the shower, standing buck naked with everyone else, Marty came over to me and said, “Do you have a girlfriend or wife or anything?” At that point I was not going to drop the soap! After recovering from my shock, I replied, “Yes, I do have a girlfriend” to which Marty replied, “Do you want to go to the John Denver Concert?” That is where I met Mary Ethel McCleary and started learning so much more about Marty Ruberry.
You see, Mary had moved from NYC to Sunnyvale in 1977 and a few years later Mary began teaching a Tiny Tots class in the Sunnyvale Recreation Department. After the John Denver concert, I started hearing a lot about Mary in and outside the racquetball court.
One by one the racquetball players got injured, moved away or lost interest and eventually it was only Marty and Dave playing racquetball Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We played for about 20 years – until we both wore out our knees. We both later had double knee replacements.
Marty and I traveled the world over, we visited each other’s hometowns, we attended each other’s parent’s anniversary celebrations, then, one by one, we attended the funerals of all 4 of our parents.
Marty could do a lot of things, but there were some things he could not do. Cruising the Mediterranean, the Norwegian captain of our ship was named Sven. Marty could not say Sven. No matter how many times he tried, he could not say Sven. We went to Mexico and, as hard as he tried, Marty could not say Manzanillo. I would say “Mans – A- Knee – O, but that did not help, Marty just could not make that word come out of his mouth.
There were things that Marty would not do. Marty would not take his shoes off at the beach, he hiked the sand in socks and shoes. Never would he put his bare feet in sand.
Marty did not always get what he wanted. Many years ago, Marty and Mary had a big fight. Marty came to me almost demanding that I support him. After arguing with him for a while, I gave up and said “Marty, you can put my name on the list of supporters with one condition”. What is that condition?” “You put an asterisk after my name.” “What is asterisk for?” “The asterisk is for a note that says, “Mary is actually right”. From that day forward Marty always asked, “Is there an asterisk on that?”
As time when on, Marty’s people, planning and organizational skills were applied to bigger and bigger jobs.
In 1983, his college friend, Mike Kelly, recruited Marty to fix serious problems at the original 24-Hour Nautilus where Marty became General Manager. Marty managed a business that was about to go bust and grew it to 30,000 members, 325 employees, three locations and revenues of $3M. He successfully sold the company to 24 Hour Fitness, which expanded the business to over 300 locations nationwide.
In 1986, Mike again recruited Marty, this time to be CEO of Black Mountain Water, a barely profitable small regional bottled water company with a declining customer base and outdated facilities. Marty hired top staff, built new facilities, grew customers from 20,000 to 70,000, grew revenue by 350% and transformed Black Mountain into the largest privately-owned bottled water company. Steve Black can tell you more about that.
In 2001 Marty successfully negotiated the sale of Black Mountain to Nestles, owner of many of the bottled water brands in the US and around the world.
After the sale of Black Mountain, Marty managed the investment portfolio of both Faulstich Investments and the real estate portfolio Three Sisters Ranch Enterprises. There he managed over $75M in investment assets and over 350,000 square feet of commercial space while building new buildings totaling 100,000 sq ft.
Marty was a very successful CEO, yet, Marty seldom spoke of his successes, he just wanted to hear about yours.
Marty was a salesman. When Marty met Jack Welch at the urinal in the clubhouse at Augusta, he pitched Jack on buying Black Mountain water for all of General Electric. When United Airlines invited a group of CEOs’ to be United’s guests in LA at the Academy Awards – along with pre and post parties, I texted Marty that I was in a limo with Larry Ellison – and one of his many young and beautiful Stanford girlfriends. Next, my phone rang, it was Marty. He asked to speak to Larry. Soon they were sharing stories about growing up in South Chicago and working as lifeguards at the beach on Lake Michigan. The conversation then shifted to why Larry should buy Black Mountain Water for Oracle – and bottled water showed up on Larry’s doorstep – and I am sure on Jack’s.
Mayor Marty was Generous. He was quick to tip everyone at the restaurant, the parking attendant, everyone at the hotel and at the golf course – despite rules against tipping there. Mary tipped – anyone who offered services – or might have services to offer. Marty taught me to carry cash, that although there were no available tables at a restaurant – that there would be a table for us after Marty “helped” the mater de. When parking lots were full, there was a parking place, when the bar was closed, there were drinks for Marty’s friends. Late one-night Mike Kelly took us to a “questionable” night club in a shady neighborhood south of Market, with metal detectors at the door. Marty was concerned that we might not be able to get a Cab when we left – so he tore a $100 bill in half, gave half to the cabbie and told him the other half was his if he was waiting at the door at midnight. The cabbie got the other half, and we got a safe ride.
Mayor Marty took care of everyone’s needs. Bottled water appeared at the door, tickets to all the Bay Area sports events were freely given, people got jobs, kids got into colleges, amazing things happened. If you wanted something, just ask Marty. Mary called that service 1-800 Call Marty. Marty had it or could always get it. Your slightest wish was his command.
Mayor Marty was cautious. He leased an unknown number of champagne colored Cadillacs, all the same model – because they had the lowest depreciation. He never drove in the fast lane “because 90% of all tickets are given to drivers in the fast lane”. Marty drove a little under the speed limit.
Marty had just leased a one of his many brand-new champagne color Cadillacs when he offered me to test drive it. Being a car racer driver– and much the opposite of Marty when driving, I put it through its paces. I noticed that Marty, in the passenger seat, holding on with all his might and looking very worried. I told him “Don’t worry Marty, I can buy you a new one.” Marty nodded, relaxed – and told that story many times.
Marty’s was very cautious when we went to Augusta. Marty arrived in Atlanta two days early – in case his flight was delayed. I flew in from Europe at the last minute. I could see Marty’s’ relief when I finally arrived. We left Atlanta very early the next morning – so we would not be late for our noon appointment. On the way we saw a car on fire next to the freeway – Marty said, “we should have rented two cars in case we have trouble with one of them”. When we arrived at Augusta – well before noon – we waited across the street from the entrance to Magnolia Drive until it was time for us to meet out host, Joe Williams. Marty had to make a left hand turn across the traffic. We waited in the left-hand turn lane for what seemed to me to be a very, very long time despite what I thought were many openings in the traffic. After several minutes of waiting I said, “Marty what are you waiting for, there was plenty of time to make the turn between cars”. Marty said, “I have made it this far, I am not going to take any chances now”.
In 1997 Marty and Mary bought their house in Pebble Beach. In 2005 they remodeled it and the next year they sold their Sunnyvale house and moved to Pebble Beach. Yet, Marty maintained his Bay Area network while expanding his FoM – Friends of Marty – network here.
Mayor Marty was a Friend – a loyal, loving, caring, lifelong friend. He regularly called so many of us just to check in on how we were doing. He asked, not only about us, but or wives, our kids, our grandkids. It wasn’t fake, he truly cared about each of us.
I believe I was Marty’s best friend – I bet many of you believe you were his best friend. He made us all feel so very special. Here is a fairly recent call from Marty.
A typical Marty call, a little Irish Catholic humor, Marty making other people happy and Marty concerned about you.
Mary’s favorite number was 23. They were married on September 23. Whenever we saw the number 23 on a doorway or wherever, we took a picture and texted it to Mary. Marty’s favorite number was 5. Marty was always in control – even when he wasn’t in control. Marty died on February 3 – on 2.3 – at 2:35. A coincidence? You decide.
In all my life, there will never be another Mayor Marty.
Marty, we love you. We will miss you. We always will.