Stories By Gene Rogers

I met Marty in 1973.  He was one of three “Recreation Supervisor” managers working for the City of Sunnyvale. Among other things, he was responsible for the programming of several of Sunnyvale’s parks and recreation facilities.  I was in my senior year at SJSU, majoring in Recreation and Leisure Studies (seriously), I had to have some work experience in the field as part of the degree requirements.  Sunnyvale had a great reputation, so I applied there and was fortunate to be hired. Though I was assigned on a part-time basis to work in an after-school program in Marty’s park district, he wasn’t involved in my job interview before I started,  

My initial introduction to Marty occurred when I  had occasion to visit City Hall after work one day.  I was entering and Marty was leaving when our chance encounter occurred.  He stopped and asked me:  “Are you Gene Rogers?”   After I answered, he offered “I’m Marty Ruberry. I want you to know that I didn’t hire you.”  I was a little taken aback and unsure of what to think. After getting to know him better I soon discovered  that Marty was an alright guy. He was an exceptional manager; well-organized, personable, smart, playful and he took a keen interest in the welfare of his staff.  Little could I know we would become lifetime friends,  Nor did I know that my career in Parks and Recreation would be relatively short-lived–as was Marty’s. Within a few years I transitioned into local government administration and Marty moved into the private sector where he had great success.

Being an uber-social guy, Marty loved to throw parties.  It was always exciting to hear the words “party at Marty’s!”  You never who you were going to meet, but a good time was assured.  At that time in our lives, Marty developed a keen interest in golf. I had long been an avid golfer, so we and others played golf together at least once per week for a few years. Our home course was the famed links at Sunnyvale Muni; once in awhile, Sunken Gardens.  One dark, moonless night at Sunken Gardens, Marty and I got involved in a golf match where we were playing a par 3 hole in the dark, over and over.  Somehow I managed to win his living room furniture.  He won the furniture back a few days later in a dice game. Probably at the Grog and Sirloin.

There came a period when there weren’t enough decent open-to-the public golf courses in the Bay Area, Marty, I and the other foursome members would often drive to Hollister, Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay, Gilroy, Monterey and/or Galt(!) to play golf. We would leave as early as 6am and return after dark.  Marty usually drove as he had the largest car (post Duster) and he liked being in control.  We enjoyed playing dice games and downing a cocktail or two after our round. The drive home always seemed to last forever, especially if there was an unresolved controversial event that happened during our game.  (This was not unusual.) 

In about 1978, Marty and I had occasion to share a modest two-bedroom rental on Carroll Street in downtown Sunnyvale.  This arrangement lasted for a number of months, but it is a bit of a blur.  I do recall a time that Marty entered the house through the back porch, looking rather pale.  I asked what was up, and he responded that he had discovered that the landlord was raising rabbits (to eat)  in cages hidden behind the bushes in the backyard.  It  surprised me to discover that he cared about rabbits. 

Over the following 10 years I remained with Sunnyvale in management positions.  Marty moved on to the private sector, where he thrived. He eventually joined Sharon Heights CC, where he definitely made a name for himself.  His social world expanded greatly, so I didn’t see him as often as before. But he continued to play in season on the team I managed (the Hothead Ptahs) in a slow pitch softball recreational league in Mountain View.  He would often invite me to play golf at Sharon Heights, an offer I never refused. During those years, his golf game greatly improved such that he carried a low handicap.

In 1989 I left my management job in Sunnyvale and moved to Southern California to work for City of Moreno Valley in Riverside County. I left lots of friends behind, but I was a frequent visitor to the Bay Area and had occasion to visit Marty and Mary. In 1998 I decided that I eventually wanted to move back to the Bay Area, so I began a search for a potential second home in the region. I narrowed my search to the Santa Cruz area, but could not find a home in my price range that wasn’t near railroad tracks, freeway or mountains. One of the times when I was looking for real estate I drove to the Monterey area and stayed overnight with Marty and Mary in Pebble Beach (where they had recently acquired their second home). The stay was pleasant, and it got me to think about the possibility of acquiring my second home in the Monterey area.  I determined that it was feasible financially, so I returned to the area several times to search for a property.  In 1998 I purchased a house that was only a few blocks from the Ruberry Pebble Beach home.  I visited Pebble Beach at least once a month and moved into the home permanently in 2012. Marty and Mary were kind enough to address any issues at the house when I wasn’t in the area.

Since moving to Pebble Beach I have had the pleasure of frequent social interactions with Marty and Mary. They are terrific hosts.  Marty invited me to play golf at MPPC on numerous occasions– I can’t remember declining any of those invitations.   The golf was entertaining and I enjoyed meeting his fellow members and other friends.  There were many.  When introduced to someone, he would sometimes mention that we had met before, and then state where and when. I learned to acknowledge that to be true even in cases when I had no clue. 

Marty and Mary put of a courageous fight to defeat the cancer that invaded Marty’s esophagus.  It was heartbreaking to witness the struggles that they endured. Marty was always a rock when it came to endurance, but even his strong will, Mary’s heart and the love and support of his family and friends could not overcome his illness.  I feel fortunate that I was among those that Marty would call his friend.  He is dearly missed.

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