Dot and Sam DeKruyf are probably one of the most fun-loving couples you’ll ever want to meet! Their gregarious personalities stem from their incredible work ethic surrounding the family farm, great moral values, and a zest for life that has kept this couple going for over 53 years!
The DeKruyf’s come from a long line of dairy farmers who emigrated from Holland to Paramount, California, just 45 minutes from Disneyland. “It gives me a great sense of pride knowing that our farms are fourth generation and that everyone ‘rides for the brand’ instilling quality, values, and focus toward the future,” Sam says. “There is no greater joy than seeing our grandchildren take over the business – every owner makes the farm better than it was before. I made it better than my dad and the kids have already made it better than me. They have expanded to growing raspberries, wine grapes, tomatoes, almonds, and pistachios.”
Now with multiple farms in operation supplying top food distributors and the land surrounding it becoming more and more valuable, Sam finds himself growing into a property developer role, which has become a fun and exciting new challenge.
His beautiful wife Dot is a familiar face around the desert as she models for top brands. She surprisingly attributes her great figure and vitality to the glass of milk she drinks every day. “There’s nothing better,” she beams. Dot’s first introduction to BIGHORN was through her modeling for St. John at one of the Ladies’ Home Tours put on by BIGHORN Properties. “I just loved the ladies, they were so friendly and real, very different from other communities,” expresses Dot. “I knew we could make some special friends here and we were right!”
Dot and Sam purchased their homesite in 2007, with the help of BIGHORN Properties sales associate Jacquie Burns. They built their dream house over the next two years using Prest-Vuksic Architects, builder Steve Ruffolo, interior designer Randy Patton Design, and Wayne Connor & Associates for their landscape design. This dream team created a 7,400 sf haven for all of their family to come and visit while showing off their meaningful collectibles. The couple has skillfully blended Western artifacts with contemporary art to create a true desert contemporary masterpiece.
“We love our open concept home,” shares Dot. “Every area is open to the others. Since we spend the most amount of time outside, we took great care in making it a special sanctuary.” In fact, the family loves the outdoors so much that Sam took some of his Western collectibles and created a special village and firepit area so the clan could enjoy their grass roots. The area cleverly designed by Wayne Connor makes the whole family feel as if they have been transported to Knott’s Berry Farm, which is exactly where the pair purchased some of the memorabilia including a handsome cowboy named Slim. “We spend so much time here, making plans for the future, discussing the present, and watching the kids play,” shares Sam.
The DeKruyf family comes to visit their BIGHORN home several times a year. So Dot and Sam made an atmosphere for every family member to enjoy every moment – creating memories to last a lifetime. “All the kids are in the family dairy business so they work extremely hard. When they come to BIGHORN they also play hard. I’m so excited to see our nine grandchildren and seven great grandkids for the holidays!” squeals Dot. “We’ll just run down to the church in our golf cart, enjoy the service, and be back up to BIGHORN in no time.”
When the family comes, they come in droves, typically 24 to 30 people strong. “So years ago Jared, our Restaurant Manager, started a ‘Dinner with Bobby’ tradition in the Men’s Locker Room at Christmastime,” describes Dot. “With so many of us we needed a special place to have dinner, let the kids hang out, and enjoy each other’s company. Bobby, our Locker Room Manager, is one of the greatest individuals on the planet and having him host our annual dinner makes him an honorary DeKruyf!”
Among the events the DeKruyfs enjoy, they also love all of the amenities – especially working out in the gym. “I’m addicted to our spin class,” shares Dot. “We’re also a big take-out family from The Pour House and we always take the family to the Canyons Steak House when they are here. It’s our special outing!”
“We are really excited about the new Clubhouse,” Dot shares. “We are very impressed in the execution of the design and can imagine all the fun our family will have when it is completed.” Sam adds, “It’s just another first-class amenity that R.D. Hubbard has envisioned to take our Club over the top! I love how Hubbard handles the Club, telling us what we are getting instead of all these crazy committees that other clubs have that just end up fighting with each other. Hubbard’s vision has always been true to what our Members’ lifestyle needs and he’s a big reason behind why we are so happy here at BIGHORN. Hubbard and the incredibly talented staff make every day a worthwhile one – boy are we lucky!”
Sam can be found at The Vault every day. You’ll find him checking on his two special automotive beauties, revving up their engines and hanging out with friends talking about cars. “The Vault is my favorite thing about BIGHORN! What a spectacular place to spend time. The Vault is so over-the-top. The President Jay Westman just created a place so far beyond our imagination and expectation, which is why it’s been so successful! And the fact that Hubbard and BIGHORN donated the land just proves how amazing this place really is.”
One of his babies, a 1958 Chevrolet Impala, is just like one he owned when he was a teenager. Yet it has an even better story on how he received it and how it was restored. “I was at The Pour House enjoying a glass of wine when Abel, the outside service personnel manager, pulled the car up,” Sam beams. “I was so amazed to see a ‘58 in such mint condition that I called my son-in-law Peter Bourna over to come look at it. Memories flooded over me and I was stunned at the level of detail from the bumper to the interior to the old 45 record player spinning tunes. I kept walking round and round the car and noticed the personalized license plate that said ‘Sam’s ‘58’ and I said, ‘I gotta meet the owner!’ Peter then told me, ‘It’s yours!’ and I doubled over in disbelief. It is one of my most favorite gifts, not only because it resembles my original ’58, but because of all the time and energy it took for him to rebuild it.”
The ’58 Impala features an all-new body, new chassis, and semi-gullwing rear fins. Its expansive size and the sleek styling of the two-door hard top lent itself to popular trends in the late 1950s. Knowing how much Sam’s original ’58 meant to him, his son-in-law Peter worked alongside some of the greatest restoration crews including RD Performance, C&S Auto & Truck, Burton’s Classics, Custom Painter Pete Santini, artist Steve Stanford, and Corona Customs. The crew brought the machine to life with four-wheel disk brakes, an alternator, air-conditioning, stereo, electronic ignition, and a 409ci engine while still retaining the original 348, two-speed cast iron Powerglide. With a pearl white body, candy green panels, and a green metalflake roof, the Impala roared to life ready for the next generation to appreciate its spectacular design.
“I remember Sam and I driving anywhere we could in that car,” recalls Dot. “To the drive-in movies, over to Hodies for burgers – it’s the best gift Sam could have ever received, especially because it came from family.”
The DeKruyfs also own a 1949 Mercury with a completely restored chop top that has been nicknamed “Lola.” This burgundy-colored “low rider” became the definitive custom car in the ‘50s, especially after James Dean drove one in Rebel Without a Cause, becoming a true American icon.
A cherry red Cushman scooter graces a third spot in The Vault. “Everyone owned a Cushman scooter growing up,” shares Sam. “Even Hubbard. When the scooter arrived it was amazing to hear how many Members grew up with a Cushman.” Sold often through Sears, Cushman produced engines for farm equipment, then became popular in World War II when the armed forces used them. And why wouldn’t they when it could easily travel 75 miles per gallon and advertised a penny-a-mile operating cost?
“I can’t thank Hubbard and Vault President Jay Westman enough for creating this one-of-a-kind experience where I can hang with other car lovers who also love BIGHORN as much as I do,” shares Sam. “For Dot and I, BIGHORN has become more than a home. It’s a family you want to spend time with and make lifelong memories with. We’re never leaving!”