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Silverado Country Club Developer Turns 100 Years Old

Ed Westgate celebrated his 100th birthday on May 15 at Silverado Resort, the destination resort that he created in the 1960s.

Westgate was feted by nearly 100 friends and family, surrounded by multicolored balloons floating on the ceiling, pictures dating back decades and newspaper articles on display, with Frank Sinatra playing in the background.

An avid golfer, Westgate was pictured with golfing legend Lee Trevino in 1968.

“If I’m in as good a shape as you are when I get to 100, I’ll be ahead of the game,” said brother-in-law Jack Rydman, who lives in Oakville.

Westgate, who now resides in St. Helena, started as a Stockton farmer and became a businessman who not only developed Silverado, but also built hotels and condos in Hawaii and Samoa.

Westgate’s wife Joan presided over the affair. Her children and grandchildren performed a song, adapting the “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” with words that described Westgate’s life.

Tony Kilgallin, who edited Westgate’s memoirs and interviewed him last month for his TV show on Napa’s Cable Channel 28, described him as the man who “built the first condominiums in California” as well as major leisure-residential projects in Hawaii.

Kilgallin said Westgate’s business career started at a young age. “At 10 years old, he needs some money,” he said. “He sends a story to Ripley’s Believe it or Not and gets $10. Now he’s a capitalist.”

Westgate went to University of the Pacific back when it was called College of the Pacific, then later to Stanford University. He became one of UOP’s major benefactors.

A contingent from UOP attended his birthday celebration.

“We are grateful to have him as a long-time supporter and friend of the university,” said Janet Dial, interim vice president of UOP. “He’s given a lot of support and visited the university.”

Westgate purchased the Silverado property in 1966 for $3 million as part of Westgate Factors. The new owners turned one golf course into two 18-hole championship links, the first courses designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. who went on to become one of America’s top course designers.

Westgate built the first condos and other recreation amenities that made Silverado a destination resort. Westgate Factors sold Silverado in 1984 for a reported $19.2 million.