Aides Say Smith Has No Plans to Retire or Sell Holdings : Business: The real estate magnate is likely to disband one of his partnerships. But he'll 'die with his boots on,' says an executive.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Real estate mogul Martin V. (Bud) Smith, one of Ventura County's wealthiest men, wants to disband a business partnership but is not planning to retire or sell off most of his real estate holdings, Smith's associates said Wednesday.

Smith recently wrote to one of his partnerships that he wanted to end the association because he is contemplating retirement and plans to sell his real estate holdings. The partnership--Del Norte Properties Ltd.--was set to end this month after 30 years.

The group, which has 24 partners, owns 30 acres on Central Avenue in Camarillo near the Ventura Freeway. The site includes the Del Norte Inn and the Country Inn at Camarillo--both of which Smith owns himself--along with several restaurants and office buildings.

However, executives at Martin V. Smith & Associates said Wednesday that a local newspaper report saying that Smith was planning to retire and sell his massive holdings was inaccurate. He owns about 200 properties between Santa Maria and Calabasas--a portfolio valued at more than $150 million.

Smith will probably never retire, said Richard Spencer, executive vice president of Martin V. Smith & Associates. And although Smith may sell his part of Del Norte Properties Ltd., he is not dismantling his entire real estate empire, said Spencer, Smith's assistant for more than 20 years.

"Mr. Smith, to use an old cowboy saying, is going to die with his boots on," Spencer said. "He just cares too much about his business to step away."

"He can't retire," added Spencer's colleague Sue Van Camp. "He's got too many things he's interested in. It's his work ethic."

Smith was vacationing in Mexico and was unavailable for comment Wednesday. His real estate holdings include the Wagon Wheel hotel and bowling alley complex next to the Ventura Freeway, the Casa Sirena Marina Resort near Oxnard and the Oxnard Financial Plaza.

Spencer acknowledged discussions to sell several of Smith's properties, but declined to elaborate. He stressed, however, that such discussions are always taking place and there are currently no plans to sell anything.

"The end of an empire? No," Spencer said. "There has been speculation that Mr. Smith is going to retire for a long time, and we understand the interest. He's one of the most famous people in the county. But it's just speculation."

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