When Tex Gatlin selected his Dream Team for the decade of the 1950s at Del Norte High School, another of the offensive linemen he chose was Rich Gurney. Rich was a 1958 Del Norte High School graduate, and like many other Warrior standouts, was born and raised in Crescent City.
Rich has the distinction of being a member of the last class to graduate from the old high school, which was located at 9th and H streets. Many people remember best the running backs, quarterbacks and pass receivers that make big plays everyone sees. Old coaches like myself like to remember those offensive linemen that made the big plays by the skill people possible.
Rich was one of those. He had the privilege of blocking, so that outstanding Warriors like Bill Sullivan, Drew Roberts, Dale Nickels and Danny Sousa could display their talents.
After graduation, Rich led a very interesting life. He first attended Santa Rosa Junior College for two years. After JC he came back to Crescent City and worked for his dad Buck Gurney at the Surf Cafe Bar and Restaurant. This business was one of those destroyed by the 1964 tsunami. It was later rebuilt and opened as the Tidal Wave Room.
Through the 1970’s Rich went to work in the construction business for the Morrison Knudsen and the Bethel construction companies. This job took him all over the world to such interesting places as the Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Algeria and others. After tiring of the construction trade Rich returned to Crescent City and bought the Grotto from his aunt Arlene Spann. The Grotto at that time was located on Citizens Dock Road near England Marine.
Rich recognized that this old facility needed to be modernized and built the new Grotto where it now stands. Rich ran the Grotto until 1996 when he retired from the restaurant business.To keep himself busy he went to work at Pelican Bay State Prison in the food service department for the next 13 years.
Rich is now retired, lives on the golf course, plays a lot of golf and generally enjoys life. Rich has four grown children –– one son and three daughters.
He is the proud grandpa of eight grandkids which he thoroughly enjoys. Rich looks like he could still block and even though I have known Rich for many years, talking to him about his playing days was a real treat.
Dick Trone writes on his reflections and the history of Del Norte High Warrior sports. Trone, who played football for the Warriors, had an illustrious career on the gridiron at Humboldt State University. Trone was head football coach at Del Norte High for a number of years before retiring.