Felix Jain Denina was born November 20, 1932 in Nabua, Camarines Sur, in the Bicol region of the Philippines, the youngest son among 14 siblings.
He graduated high school in Nabua then moved to Manila to attend college and law school at the Lyceum of the Philippines.
He joined the US Navy in 1960.
One day on leave, he accompanied his sister, Juana, to a Mu Sigma Mu sorority fete, and met her best friend, Dolly Naguiat Santos, who would become his lifetime partner. They married on June 28, 1964.
Their first duty station together was at Norfolk, Virginia. Felix served a tour in Viet Nam, and rose to the rank of Chief Legalman (LNC). Stations included Subic Bay (Philippines), Great Lakes, Illinois; Balboa (San Diego), CA; Long Beach, CA; Port Hueneme, CA; and Naples, Italy. Having put 20 years in the Navy, he retired to Oxnard, California where he memorably ran for City Council in 1982.
He and Dolly moved to Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippnes to raise their family close to Dolly's hometown of Porac. After earning an MPA, Felix went on to teach Political Science at the Angeles University Foundation. He ran a popular restaurant, Denmart, and is affectionally known simply as "Dad" to hundreds of med students and undergraduates.
In 1993, he and Dolly settled in Lake City, Florida, which quickly became home. An active member of the Epiphany Catholic Church, he earned a fourth degree in the Knights of Columbus. He owned rental properties and found running the Green Tree Village fulfilling on many levels.
Here too, he made lifelong friends. Sought out for his wit, warmth, and legal advice, he never met a stranger. His trademark smile and wave, hearty "Hello!", firm handshake, and ready laugh graced many a gathering. His now standard reply to the query "how are you?" in Tagalog was, "Ma-beauty pa rin", a play on the equivalent of "Still good".
Wherever they've lived, Felix and Dolly promoted culture, heritage, traditions, founding the Bicol Club of Ventura County (Calif) during the early 70's and the Filipino American Cultural Society of Lake City, FL in the 90's.
He has been patriarch to a large, extended, involved, close family (Aaaaaamolan!). His kind congenial manner and steadfast presence is missed already by his sister, cousins, nieces and nephews (some older than him) and their kids. He always espoused unity, respect, and love of family. He was at times very strict but endeared himself with his directness and jokes, and so much affection. Memorably, though quite ill and just released from the hospital on supplemental oxygen, he insisted on making it to the West Bloomfield, Michigan 2012 Denina Reunion -- by car, because he was forbidden to fly. The cadence and narrative delivered in his commanding voice will not be soon forgotten.
But it isn't only the family into which he was born that holds him in such esteem. When he married Dolly Naguiat Santos, he was enfolded into a family as loving and supportive as his own, and they mourn their Papa Nono too.
He is survived by his beloved wife of nearly 50 years, Dolly, their three children: Judi, Nina, and Anthony, four grandchildren: Cheryll Joy, John, Sam and Mark Anthony, his dear sister Nanie and her husband Bernie and a large supportive, loving, robust circle of family and friends worldwide that will not forget his lessons or his example or the beauty of his person.
A Funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, March 16, 2013, at 11 A.M. at Epiphany Catholic Church with Father Mike Pendergraft officiating. Interment will follow in Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens. Visitation with the family will be Friday, March 15, 2013, at the funeral home from 5 P.M. till 9 P.M. Prior to Friday, the body will lie in state at Epiphany Catholic Church on Wednesday and Thursday nights from 5 P.M. to 7 P.M. GATEWAY-FOREST LAWN FUNERAL HOME, 3596 S US Hwy 441, Lake City, FL 32025 (386-752-1954) is in charge of arrangements. Please send words of love and comfort to the family at www.gatewayforestlawn.com.
Published in Lake City Reporter on Mar. 14, 2013