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Robert Donald "Don" Orlandi Sr.

Robert Donald "Don" Orlandi, Sr. It's with heavy hearts that we announce the peaceful passing of Don, Sr. on October 24, 2012, at 5:12 p.m. at home surrounded by his wife and children. Born at home on June 1, 1931, in Anvil, Michigan, Don was the third child of Italian immigrant parents Luigi Orlandi, an iron-ore miner, and Cecilia (Franceschelli) Orlandi, wife and mother. Don learned to speak fluent Italian at home as a child. In 1937, the family moved to Sonoma, Ca., where Don attended Huchica Elementary, a one room school house, and later graduated from Sonoma High School. While a senior, Don, met his high school sweetheart, Trena, whose family moved to Sonoma from the San Fernando Valley. The couple married April 5, 1950, in Reno, Nevada. During high school, Don, acquired a deep love of music, especially big band, and began playing the trombone in the school orchestra. Years later, he joined the Mello-Tones dance band and "The German Band" performing professionally for 25 years. He was the last surviving member of both bands. While living in Mill Valley and raising a family, Don became an insurance adjuster for Allstate in San Francisco. Don and Trena enjoyed long motorcycle trips with friends for years until Trena suggested it was time for something tamer: Flying. Having used a $5 coupon for a single flying lesson, he was hooked. Barely able to contain his exhilaration over piloting a plane, Don earned his private pilot's license in 1969. After moving to San Rafael in 1970, Don's love of automobiles found him starting his own family-run auto repair facility on East Francisco Blvd. For over 35 years, until his retirement, Don was a fixture in the business community. He had been a member of the Rotary Club and the Lions Club, a member of the Marin County Sheriff's Marine Patrol, a Special Deputy for the Marin County Sheriff's Air Patrol, and was a current member and past president of the Marvelous Marin Breakfast Club. Don went on to purchase his own airplane and spent many hours traveling with Trena, and the family at times, vacationing or visiting far-away friends and commuting to the family cabin at Lake Almanor. They also enjoyed traveling the country by motor home and trips to Italy, where Don met his Italy relatives. During retirement, Don spent endless hours in his workshop building and creating or simply making repairs for friends. He had a passion for cooking and entertaining and delighted in inviting others to his home for evenings filled with food and lively conversation. Recipe tinkering was his specialty, and he spent hours recreating the Italian food from his childhood memories. In recent years, Don became an honorary member of the Christian Science Church in Mill Valley, accompanying his wife to her weekly Bible classes and to Sunday morning church services. A brilliant raconteur, Don, told his stories and jokes with a twinkle in his eye and an easy laugh; laughing so hard he'd have to wipe away his own tears. Friend to so many, best friend to his loved ones; he was the center of our family life. Don had a large presence and magnetic personality. He made life wondrous with his sense of adventure and fun and was knowledgeable, skilled, and intuitive on so many levels. Before passing, Don remarked that looking back over his life he realized he had fulfilled all his dreams, accomplishing everything he ever wanted. There were no regrets. We remember and cherish his life each day in our hearts and memories. Don is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Trena Orlandi, and their three children: Lea D. Orlandi, Don Orlandi, Jr. (Trudy), David M. Orlandi (Carla); grandchildren Bob Orlandi (Karen), Kelly Orlandi Sayer (Travis), Jack and Sam Orlandi; great-grandchildren Dylan, Jordan, Ashton, Landon, Luigi, Matt; brothers Italo and Richard Orlandi; also many nephews and nieces; and his family in Italy. The family thanks those who sent cards, flowers, emails, made phone calls, and brought food to the family home. Your thoughtfulness and prayers are deeply appreciated. No services were held at Don's request.

Published in Marin Independent Journal on Feb. 3, 2013
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