Harold “Stubby” Dils
Stubby lived a legendary life – he had an all consuming curiosity about the outdoors and friends said he was born 100 years too late. He acquired his nickname because as a small child he refused to wear shoes and was always stubbing his toes. His mom Oma passed when he was 4 and his father Harold was an engineer for Northrop. He graduated Torrance High School class of 1956. While in high school he learned to scuba dive at Mel Fisher’s Aqua Shop in Redondo Beach. He became a roofer after he graduated and had 2 children, Scott and Pam, with his first wife.
He married Darleen in 1966 who he called ‘his splash of color in a dull life’ and she called him her ‘Mountain Man’. Stubby taught her how to hunt and fish and they traveled several times to Alaska to hunt Caribou and live off the land. They were California State Varmit Calling Champions in 1965. In 1969 he became a Los Angeles City Fireman and found his lifelong calling. Stubby and Darleen celebrated with a vacation to Europe then welcomed the birth of their daughter Tina in 1970.
As a fireman he gave his job his all and then some. In the Sylmar earthquake of 1971 he climbed through the wreckage of the Veterans Hospital to rescue survivors. He rescued people and fought fires on and off the job, and even received a commendation for the search and recovery of a fireboat propeller. He worked on almost every piece of apparatus the department had, and spent the last 17 years as a scuba diver on Fire Boat 5 in the LA harbor doing air/sea rescue.
He enjoyed prospecting for gold so he took up the Muleshoe Mine in Plumas County in 1971 and had it patented. He believed the greatest treasure there was being able to be outdoors and do what he loved with friends and family. He traveled with friends to Mexico, Papua New Guinea and Australia prospecting. Sometimes he found gold, sometimes just golfed on the Nullarbor while waiting for the truck to be repaired or pranked family so they thought they were being abducted by ghosts.
In 1997 he moved to Minden, Nevada and continued to work for the LAFD for another 4 years. His retirement was not as adventurous as he hoped; working so many years for the fire department took its toll. There was so much more to his life – he was also a mushroom hunter, sprint car fan, knew how to knap arrowheads, climbed into a cave after a wounded mountain lion, and could make you groan with his musty puns. He passed peacefully in his sleep as he had hoped. He is survived by Darleen, his wife of 53 years, and son Scott and daughter Tina.
Rest in peace Stubby – tougher than nails!
A Celebration of Life will be held February 29th from 1- 4 PM at the family home.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Widows, Orphans and Disabled Firefighters Fund, 7470 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90041.
Arrangements are in the care of Fitzhenry’s Funeral Home, 775-782-1999.