Marlow C. Rathbun, a retired sheriff's lieutenant who applied his people skills and expertise in security while helping to manage the Del Mar Satellite Wagering Facility, died yesterday in his Poway home. He was 65.
Mr. Rathbun, who was diagnosed with cancer two months ago, retired in December as assistant manager of the wagering site at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
"He was my right-hand man, the glue that kept this place together," said a tearful Barbara Davis, manager of the facility that opened in November 1987.
"I depended on him so much. When a customer would get out of line, he (Mr. Rathbun) would have a way of bringing him back in line."
Mr. Rathbun also worked summers as a chief security investigator at the Del Mar Racetrack.
A law enforcement professional for 30 years, Mr. Rathbun earned a reputation in the county Sheriff's Department as a consummate street officer with a gift for dealing with people.
For several years, he was a member of the department's special enforcement detail, accepting undercover assignments.
Retired sheriff's Cmdrs. John Galt and Jack Corinda described him yesterday as one of the best street cops they had worked with.
Sam Templeton, another retired sheriff's commander and law enforcement colleague who worked with Mr. Rathbun at the satellite wagering facility, said his former associate "confronted issues and solved them."
"He was a stand-up guy with his men," Templeton said. "He took responsibility and handled situations well."
Mr. Rathbun joined the Sheriff's Department in March 1960 after serving six years as a San Diego police officer. In 1975, he was the first lieutenant assigned to the Poway substation.
He also worked at various times as a patrol officer based in El Cajon and as a detective based in Fallbrook.
In the early 1980s, he graduated from the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va.
Mr. Rathbun was born in St. Paul, Minn., and moved with his family to San Diego at age 8. He joined the Coast Guard in 1948, serving four years before beginning his career in law enforcement.
Survived by his wife of 46 years, Leamorah; two daughters, Janice Teixeira, of Mira Mesa, and Marla Sanders, of Santa Cruz; a son, Richard, of San Diego; a foster son, George Ramge, of San Diego; a sister, Mary Ewing, of Clairemont; a brother, Clarence Earl Rathbun, of Del Cerro; and six grandchildren.