By Nikki Garrett Metzger
(Victorville) – A man who was instrumental in the development of the Victor Valley, with family roots that reach back to the 1940s, and whose family is still a valued part of the Victor Valley has died.
Jim Tatum moved to the High Desert in 1941 with his family when his father decided to move his farming operation to the Valley. His father, Clyde Tatum, built the first homes in what became George Air Force Base, and then went on to build 7000 homes in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s in the Victor Valley.
After attending Victor Valley High School and Cal Poly Pomona, Jim joined the US Army. In 1963, he moved back to Victorville and joined the family development business. The Tatum family served an integral role in the growth of the Victor Valley, developing and building homes and neighborhoods, including Silver Lakes, Green Tree, and many others. They dedicated several city parks, built several schools, donated land and constructed civic buildings and shopping centers as well as local hospital construction and expansion projects.
Mike Rothschild, Victorville city Councilman, wrote, “Jim Tatum was one of the most important businessmen in Victorville’s beginnings. He built the first affordable track homes in Victorville and continued into today’s hard market. His son Todd continues that legacy today. Jim and his family have contributed to so many charities and effected many lives. I will miss him and his total honesty.”
Victorville Mayor Ryan McEachron and his family have known Jim Tatum for many years. “Our families go back YEARS – back to when I was just a young boy. And I know my dad and my granddad before my dad knew Jim very well. It is definitely difficult to see him go.”
He continued, ”Jim was always straightforward and to the point. He always made sure you knew what his opinion was, but it was very valued anytime he gave it to you.”
“The Victor Valley is much better off because of Jim Tatum and the Tatum family. They have been instrumental in allowing and providing opportunities for people to get in to a home for the first time. They were here way before the big builders such as KB and others. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know that we would see what we have here today,” McEachron concluded.
Todd Tatum, Jim’s son and business partner, reminisced about his father, “He loved his work. But what he really loved, especially in his later years, was his four grandchildren, three girls and a boy. He loved going to all of their sporting events and they would come up here most holidays. They were the light of his life.”
Of his projects, Todd explained which was his favorite, “I think he really loved home building and developing, but he really had a passion for the wholesale water business that he had built up. That allowed him to travel up and down the state, and meet a lot of people involved in agriculture as well as the municipality and water district folks that actually ended up being the buyers and end users of the water that he would broker from the agricultural districts.”
Working together everyday in the family business, Todd considers himself lucky to have had that unique relationship: not only father/son, but also business partners and then best friends.
“What I’m going to miss about him the most is his wisdom and love. He taught me so much about the business, and just how to be a good guy, a good father, even though I’m not a father. I’ll just miss being with him everyday.”
Funeral services will be Friday, March 16th at 10:30am at Sunset Hills Memorial in Apple Valley.