Darol Rasmussen died surrounded by family on Nov. 23 at his ranch home in Cameron Park. He was 89 years old.
Rasmussen was a retired dentist, rancher, developer, political activist, author, humanitarian and fixture in Cameron Park for 30 years.
A press release from the Cameron Park Rotary Club called Rasmussen “The epitome of a Rotarian … a quiet, humble, intensely dedicated man who challenged all of us to be better human beings and Rotarians.”
Throughout his career Rasmussen made a habit of supporting those less fortunate.
Rasmussen was honored by Rotary this past June when the club’s Community Foundation awarded its first-ever vocational grants to two local girls. The program was one of many made possible by Rasmussen, who actively funded scholarships for 35 years, but took special pride in these two because they were vocational rather than academic.
For what turned out to be his final scholarship, Rasmussen wanted to something self-sustaining that could provide both vocational and academic student grants on El Dorado County’s West Slope every year.
To commemorate his contributions, the club produced a video on Rasmussen now available at local schools and libraries. It highlights his life, his perspective on politics, his philanthropy and his journalistic globe trotting. Many who saw it were surprised at the extent of his passion for history and politics.
Rasmussen arrived in Cameron Park in 1981, purchasing the 200-acre Krell Ranch, located east of Cameron Park Drive. He’d just retired after a 30-year career as a dentist, and wanted to reconnect with rural roots established in central Utah as the son of a small town railroad agent. He tried growing grapes, but settled on running cattle, including an ill-fated “beefalo” venture, with hopes that the healthier beef could become an important food source.
Meanwhile, Larry Cameron’s Country Club had turned Cameron Park into a luxury rural living destination. The Rasmussen ranch was nearby, but lacked access to Cameron Park Drive. He submitted a plan to the county proposing a couple dozen 5-acre lots along the new Mira Loma Drive. But the Planning Commission, which he later served on, turned him down, citing the need for more rate-payers to fund water and sewer lines recently run into Cameron Park. The resulting Cameron Woods subdivision retains the woodsy feel he originally envisioned, but on roughly 250 smaller, neighborhood-sized lots.
Rasmussen and his second wife Laura lived on the old ranch’s remaining 70 acres.
The 10-acre Rasmussen Community Park, “Exceeded what we were required to do, but it seemed like a good idea,” said its donor, who also pitched in for the play equipment.
During the 1990s Rasmussen became increasingly concerned that the nation had strayed from its founding ideals, and decided to explore how money had influenced politics. He published “Roots for Revolt: Why the Rich Get Richer and All Others Pay,” “Brave New World Revisited” and “America: The Great Experiment Betrayed” between 1996 and 2002. All explore the deterioration of the virtues and ethics of the nation’s institutions.
Rasmussen’s outlook was unquestionably pessimistic, yet he believed in the inherent goodness of people. “Most of us will do the right thing when left to our own basic instincts,” he said.
During the 1960s Rasmussen helped a friend found the Carmichael Courier Newspaper, and anointed himself roving correspondent. He carried his press pass on travels that spanned the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic, from the Himalayas to the heart of Australia’s outback. Along the way he crossed paths with the likes of Albert Schweitzer and the Dali Lama.
One humanitarian mission put him in Guatemala, where he pulled 365 teeth in one day.
Rasmussen is survived by his wife Laura, his son Craig Rasmussen, his daughters Jan Bronson and Gayle Rasmussen, and three siblings, Kay Alder, Merv Rasmussen and Ron Rasmussen.