Robert “Budge” and Arlene Brown
Robert “Budge” Brown and his wife Arlene operated the Manteca Waterslides at Oakwood Lake for 30 years. They provided employment to 500 Manteca area residents annually with an annual payroll of over a million dollars. For many young people it was their first job. They farmed their Manteca ranch for several years and then Budge started a sand mining operation in 1970. When the pits used for mining filled with water from the San Joaquin River, they opened Oakwood Lake Resort. Budge became fascinated with a natural waterslide while visiting Hawaii. Returning to Manteca Budge set out to replicate the slide. The result was a 720 foot long concrete waterslide coated with epoxy. Frustrated with the concrete pipe design, so he set out to design waterslides out of fiberglass in five-foot diameter tubes. Budge is known in the waterpark industry as “The Father of the Fiberglass Waterpark Slide”. He was the first to build a modular, fiberglass tubular waterslide. Waterparks around the world still have some variation of his original design. He also built a number of waterparks in northern and southern California, Australia and New Zealand. The Water Park Hall of Fame, where Budge and Arlene were inducted posthumously in 2014, still rate his slides as some of the fastest ever built. With a great love of wine making, they opened the Tulip Hill Winery in 2000. After the passing of his beloved wife Arlene, Budge began a second winery, Cleavage Creek in Pope Valley with the purpose of creating world class wines and to raise awareness of breast cancer, while donating ten percent of the profits to fund alternative treatment and research. Although no longer with us, the Browns put Manteca on the map and will always be known as the home of Oakwood Lake Waterslides.