Bob Dutton, San Bernardino County assessor, remembered for his honesty and humility – San Bernardino Sun

The Inland Empire said goodbye to former Rancho Cucamonga councilman, state legislator and San Bernardino County Assessor-Recorder Bob Dutton on Friday, Aug. 19.

“He was honest, because there was no other way for him to be,” his daughter, Kara Dutton, told those gathered for his funeral. “He was a humble man who worked hard and never needed the spotlight.”

Dutton, 71, died July 23 after a battle with cancer. He represented the Inland Empire in elected office for 24 years.

Hundreds attended the funeral mass Friday morning at St. Peter and St. Paul Catholic Church in Rancho Cucamonga, where Dutton and his wife, Andrea, had been married four decades before.

He had proposed to Andrea in the drive-thru of a Jack in the Box, Father Patrick Kirsch told those in attendance Friday.

“Who would have ever thought that a miracle would have occurred at Jack in the Box?” Kirsch said. “From that day on, wonderful things have happened.”

Dutton was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. He moved to California in 1969, serving in the Army Reserve and the California Air National Guard. Dutton studied real estate at Los Angeles Valley College, and went on to spend more than 40 years in real estate investment and management.

Both his funeral and a celebration of life event were attended by past and present elected officials and government employees, including Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gómez Reyes, Rancho Cucamonga Mayor Pro Yem Lynne Kennedy, Rancho Cucamonga City Councilmember Ryan A. Hutchison, Montclair Mayor Pro Tem Bill Ruh, former county CEO Greg Devereaux and Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren.

“Bob Dutton was a public servant who loved his community and his community loved him so much that it was incorporated into his name: ‘RC Bob,’ ” former Senate Republican leader Jim Brulte said at the celebration of life event at DoubleTree by Hilton at the Ontario International Airport.

Dutton was first elected to serve on the Rancho Cucamonga City Council in 1998, and won reelection in 2000. During Dutton’s time on the council, he was credited with increasing the number of first responders without raising taxes and eliminating the city’s utility tax in 2001.

“He loved his community. He loved Rancho Cucamonga,” Second District Supervisor Janice Rutherford said at the celebration of life. “That name, ‘RC Bob,’ was not just a political slogan.”

Bob Dutton in the Press-Enterprise photo studio March 16, 2014. (File photo by Kurt Miller, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
Bob Dutton in the Press-Enterprise photo studio March 16, 2014. (File photo by Kurt Miller, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Dutton was elected to California’s 63rd State Assembly District in 2002.

When he was considering running for the Legislature, “I used to hear people say ‘I don’t know; he’s too nice,’ ” Ontario Mayor Paul Leon said at the celebration of life. “Some people can parlay being nice into being successful — especially if you’re as smart as he is.”

Two years later, Dutton was elected to represent the 31st state Senate District. He helped strike a sales tax deal between then-Gov. Jerry Brown and Amazon credited for keeping the company from cutting off its 10,000 small-business affiliates in the state, devised a transportation bond measure, and led a movement to return Ontario International Airport to local control. Dutton won a second term in 2008 and served as State Senate Minority Leader from 2011 to 2012.

In 2014, he was elected as the assessor-recorder for San Bernardino County. Dutton had no challengers in the June primary, when he won a third term in office, which was to start in January.

In his off time, Dutton’s favorite pastimes included coaching his daughter’s fast-pitch softball team, and training hunting dogs.

“Bob lived his life in such a way that those who did not know God knew Him because they knew Bob,” said Kirsch.

As for the assessor’s seat, the Board of Supervisors expects to appoint a candidate Sept. 13 to fill the remainder of Dutton’s current term. Later this year, the supervisors will appoint someone to replace Dutton for the first two years of what would have been his next term, starting in January.

The seat will be back on the November 2024 ballot. The winner of that special election will serve the remaining two years of what would have been Dutton’s third term.

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