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Felix De Martis

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Felix De Martis Obituary
Felix Joseph De Martis

(Resident of Redwood City)

A beloved father, brother, husband, friend, philanthropist, marathon runner, and lap swimmer, died November 26, 2013 at his home in Redwood City.  He was just past his 92nd birthday and had suffered the last few months from the threat and finality of heart failure. 

Mr. De Martis was born second of seven children into an Italian immigrant household in Corona, New York.  After high school, he was pressed to work in a rag factory to aid his family's support. After two years, he enlisted in World War II, the U.S. Navy, and served in the South Pacific campaigns on the Lunga Point, an aircraft carrier, for three and a half years.

After recovering from a kamikaze attack resulting in severe burns, fractures, and hearing damage, he returned to New York for two years furthering his schooling as an aircraft mechanic and technician.  Using these skills, Felix, or Phil as by then he had become known, moved to California where for the next 30 years he was employed by United Air Lines and Hiller Aircraft Corporation, the latter of which he later assisted in establishing the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos. 

Phil met, loved, and wedded, Iva Wells Brown; they lived in San Jose and Menlo Park for several years.  Their mutual dream house, ""Isle of View" on Swett Rd. off Skyline Blvd in Woodside was a demanding and fulfilling home and society for the next 45 years.  Thus, he commuted both to work daily and to their adopted church of choice, the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Palo Alto.  When Phil retired from Hiller, he procured a real estate license and became a County Assessor working predominantly on the coast in San Mateo County for 10 years. 

During his life on the West Coast, Phil was extremely active in swimming, tennis, biking, golf and most particularly running marathons of which he participated in seven after 60 years of age.  He used to say, "He was resounding the echo of the vacant sandlot baseball games of his neighborhood youth in high school".  His warmth, good nature, and generosity made friends in every direction that his enthusiasms embraced.   

Phil was preceded in death by his first wife, Iva Jane De Martis, daughters Marie De Martis and Wilma Brown Miller, and foster son, Jeff Cross.  He is survived by his daughters, Joan (Daniel Vrtis) De Martis and Heidi De Martis; grandchildren, Brett Miller, Roma Miller, and Reyma McCoy McDeid; foster daughters, Leslie Cross Null and Lori Cross Wingfield, and great-grandson, Ian Miller.  

At 80 years young, Phil married the second love of his life, Shirley Lyhne De Martis. Along with her three children Robinie (Parviz Alinejad), Peter (Marlene), and Anders Lyhne, and four grandchildren, Sabrina and Sarah Alinejad and Ben and Derek Lyhne; the Lyhne family created a loving second family in which Phil found great pleasure.

At his request, no service was held; Phil was part of the Willed Body Program at Stanford School of Medicine.  Memorial gilts may be made to Guide Dogs for the Blind, P.O .Box 3950, San Rafael, CA. 94912.

Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Feb. 9, 2014
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