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Donald Lee Bendetti

1928 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Donald Lee Bendetti Obituary
February 10, 1928 - August 6, 2016 Donald Lee Bendetti passed peacefully on August 6,2016 at the age of 88 at his Laguna Beach, California home surrounded by Dorothy, his wife of 58 years, and his four sons. Born February 10,1928 in his hometown of Paramount, California to Josephine and Peter Bendetti, Don attended Compton Junior College then enlisted in the U.S. Army and was deployed to Seoul, Korea as a Staff Sergeant. Upon returning from the war, Don graduated from Whittier College in 1952 with a degree in business administration. Don began his career at Zamboni Electric Company. Don also served as Chairman of the planning commission in the city of Paramount which began a long and successful career as a land planner and real estate developer. He was a Southern California pioneer in developing millions of square feet of industrial buildings and master-planned parks along with mobile home park communities. In those early years, Don was unique from others in that he designed the buildings himself and followed through on the development with his own construction crews. He did business the old fashioned way when he would shake hands on an agreement and one's word could be taken to the bank. Don married the love of his life, Dorothy Ann Phillips of New York City, in the summer of 1958 after a 5-year bicoastal courtship. They raised four boys, Robert (Michelle), Richard (Lori), John, and Michael (Vanessa) and nine beloved grandchildren Carli, Madeline, Mason, Sophie, Jack, Blake, Olivia, Chloe, and Cameron. Don and Dorothy moved to Newport Beach, California in 1978. Dorothy and his family were always his first love in life. He is also survived by his sister Lois (George) Tanner and numerous nieces and nephews. Don's other joy in life was his role on the Foundation Board and in the development and 1990 opening of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library & Birthplace in Yorba Linda, California. In a joint statement released in conjunction with his passing, President Nixon's daughter's, Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower, praised Donald Bendetti's 22 years of dedication and service to the Richard Nixon Foundation. "The Nixon Library is the house that Don built. We are very grateful to Don for his tireless service to the Nixon legacy and superb leadership at the Library for many years." Don served as Chairman of the of the Richard Nixon Foundation, succeeding Ambassador George L. Argyros. His dedication to the Library and the Foundation stemmed from his personal friendship with the 37th President of the United States of America, Richard Nixon. Working with architects Ernest Wilson and Rick Poulos of Langdon Wilson, Don oversaw every aspect of the construction of the 9-acre Yorba Linda campus, including the restoration of the President's 1912 birthplace home. Don worked tirelessly with the Foundation staff to create one of the most successful and innovative Presidential Libraries in the country and took great pride in excellent opening reviews in the New York Times and other publications that complemented the traditional and welcoming structure, which Richard Nixon himself requested and helped plan. Don felt deeply about the importance of President Nixon's accomplishments and changing the world for the better with the 1972 opening to China and détente with the Soviet Union. As Chairman, Don oversaw the completion of the architect's and President Nixon's vision with the opening of the Katherine B. Loker Center in 2002 which doubled the square-footage of the Nixon Library. The expansion eventually led to the agreement between the National Archives and the Nixon Foundation to partner in bringing Nixon Administration presidential papers to Yorba Linda. A key feature of the Loker Center and one of Don's passions, was the first-in-the-country re-creation of the historic White House East Room in Yorba Linda. Don spent countless hours working with Langdon Wilson Architects to translate the original White House 1901 McKim, Mead and White design into a modern working 21st century special events venue where Foundation programs, lunches, galas, as well as countless weddings take place throughout the year. Don was also particularly proud of his personal library of several hundred books written about President Nixon. Don, Dorothy and the Bendetti family are always warmly greeted whenever they attend Nixon Library programs. When he wasn't passionately working, he was travelling the world with Dorothy where they experienced many wonderful adventures together. Family trips to Hawaii, Europe, and especially Italy, were always a highlight of their times together. The family is grateful for Lito, Ben, and Dr. Rafatjoo's loving care of Don. Funeral Mass to be held Friday, August 19th, 2016 at 11:00 am, St. John Vianney Chapel 314 Marine Avenue, Balboa Island, California. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made in Donald's name to: Sally's Fund (a non-profit group serving senior citizens in need), c/o Ann von Gremp at 525 Emerald Bay, Laguna Beach, CA 9265, or National Wounded Warrior Center, P.O. Box 7275, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Aug. 14, 2016
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