Hall Of Fame Inductees


The individuals nominated should have made a significant impact or positive influence that assures the future of our industry in the lives of generations to come.


Once nominated, an individual’s biography and photo are updated on the site, and he or she is placed in the polls for voting. At the end of the year the committee takes into consideration the votes and decides which candidates are inducted.


Those with a star (*) next to their name below were either inducted posthumously or have passed away since being inducted.


Nomination Qualifications

  • Person with integrity and passion
  • Minimum 20 years in industry
  • Someone who has developed  or invented  new technology
  • Has made contributions that resulted in change
  • Contributed to mankind’s needs in his field
  • Provided education and encouragement  with self-sacrifice
  • Changed the industry

Donald Phelps*

I was introduced to the Green Industry after I completed my service time with the Air Force in 1964. I needed a job and found one working on a golf course in the City of Concord Calif. My time there was spent with maintenance of the course and help finish building the back nine which completed the eighteen hole golf course. I moved on to other endeavors until 1970 when I gained employment with The City of La Habra. It was a young time for the city parks due to the lack of equipment and products that we now have. We, in the Parks Dept., only had two trucks and one of them was the Foreman’s. The other was a crew truck and being used at the time building a new park. We did have people working in parks as resident caretakers. They went direct from home to the park and went home from the park. When I was assigned a park, that’s when I first came in contact with irrigation. At the time the parks that had irrigation was irrigated with the big heavy Thompson sprinkler. When something happened to them they were sent out for repair. I found one in need of repair and wondering why it didn’t work I proceeded to take it apart. I only had a vise, large pipe wrench and a large hammer. I found that the graphite and oil had dried up preventing the gears to move. Looking around I found a can of penetrating oil. The end results were that I got the sprinkler moving once again. From that point on the practice of sending sprinklers out for repair was ended. Other things went wrong with them but learned to fix them also.

After 3 ½ years I left the City of La Habra to work in the high country in a wood molding mill. I rejoined the City of La Habra in 1977 and I’m still with them until Dec.31st. On that date I will be retiring. My total time will be 36 years and do not regret any of it. When I came back to the city in 1977 most all of the people that I worked with had left and to be able to learn to operate the equipment you were pretty much on your own. Things by then were better because by that time the weed eater and electric hedge pruners were with us and also we had more trucks to make our jobs easier. During this time I worked at irrigation once in a while but the last twelve years I have been doing it full time and never looked back. We still had some Thompson sprinklers and the opportunity to visit the refinery that made the Thompson and take classes on the product came available. We also were able to visit turf shows and see the new products that would make our jobs easier and better.

Most of my schooling for irrigation was by trial and error. The only teacher I had was learning by my mistakes. I hate to do my work over so I learned to pay attention to what I was doing and don’t cut corners in order to get the job done quicker because it will come around and bite you. I have found what I call sins, buried out in the field because people did the easy way out and hoped that they would never need to go back for a re do. Sometimes that didn’t work out and to this day I still find the sins that other people had committed. In my teaching, I make sure that the job is done correctly the first time because most of all, you do not want to re visit a main line repair that wasn’t done properly. Not to say that I don’t make mistakes and when I do I’m very hard on myself for doing so. When others do I just tell them that I had done the same thing and it can be fixed. I do remind them not to cut corners and be sure to do it right the first time.

One day I discovered a little place called Irrigator Tech. I gave it a try and I found that so much more was to be learned. I found the teachers were very knowledgeable in the field plus if you had something to add they would listen. I felt that I brought to the class, my experience, as much as I received. If I remember correctly, I was in the second class that Irrigator Tech had. I completed the course but I still came back for other classes that were offered. During one of the classes I made a suggestion to Richard that he should come up with a soldering class. I felt that there was a lot of people in the industry hadn’t learned to solder correctly. Richard listened and to this day you can find the soldering class on the schedule. My main objective is for the new people that come to the city parks dept. go and learn more about there job. Because when they hired on it was just a job but if they are around for ten years the job becomes a career. The bottom line is “Listen, Learn and take the time to try and do new things. Just when you think you have no more to learn there is always more coming to the Green Industry for you.