Philip William Dempewolf, 78, passed away at his home in Bonita, California on May 25, 2020 after a long battle with cancer. He was the brother-in-law of Gary “Lark” Lemen of Dansville. Each winter, Gary stayed with Philip and his family in California, returning to Dansville in the spring.
Philip shared a mutual love of sports with Gary “Lark” Lemen. Together, they watched college football and the Super Bowl, and attended San Diego Aztecs home games. Philip and Gary drove to Arizona for baseball Spring Training, and went on a cross-country trip to see the Aztecs take on the Fighting Irish at Notre Dame. In 2016, Gary joined Philip and Sandra in Hawaii to enjoy nature and whale watching.
Born in Bellevue, Iowa, Philip studied engineering at Iowa State University and joined the Navy as an aviator. Stationed in San Diego, California, he flew F-8 Crusaders and deployed to Vietnam on the USS Hancock and USS Bon Homme Richard. After the war, Philip was based in Kingsville, Texas as an F-4 instructor pilot in the Navy Reserves. He met Sandra Lemen at a dance at the MCRD in Point Loma in 1966, and after several years of romance and courtship, they married on June 26, 1971.
In 1974, Philip became a commercial airline pilot and flew with PSA and US Airways for over 28 years. He took many trips with his family to Hawaii, Europe, and New Zealand and fostered in them a love of travel. He studied law at the University of San Diego and earned a Doctor of Jurisdiction in 1976.
Philip retired from the airlines at age 60 and enjoyed 18 wonderful years of retirement with Sandra. Together, they took cruises, regularly visited many countries in Europe, and over the last 7 years, they established a tradition of spending time on Kauai during the Thanksgiving period, exploring the island and observing local albatross nests.
Philip volunteered with Meals on Wheels for 10 years and actively participated in the Native Plant Society of California, incorporating many species into his home gardens. He enjoyed coaching his children’s sports teams, supporting their musical performances, reading good books, attending the theater, and savoring delicious dinners with his wife. Always athletic, Philip ran the San Diego Marathon, crossed Iowa in the RAGBRAI bicycle race and walked the neighborhoods of San Diego each Sunday. His independent nature inspired him to conquer many projects on his own including landscaping the yard, repairing the car and home, building a children’s clubhouse, arranging travel excursions, and learning Spanish. He had a wry sense of humor, a practical outlook on life, and a very generous heart.
Philip is survived by his wife, Sandra Dempewolf; his daughter, Gretchen Dempewolf (David Toplon); his son, Geoffrey Dempewolf (Megan Dempewolf); and his grandson, Marcus Dempewolf. He will be buried with Sandra’s family in Greenmount Cemetery, Dansville, NY. A joint memorial service will be held for him and Gary when arrangements are possible.
Please direct condolences to: firstname.lastname@example.org. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to:
Seasons Hospice Foundation: https://seasonsfoundation.org/donate/
Meals on Wheels: https://www.meals-on-wheels.org/meals
Native Plant Society of California: https://www.cnps.org/give/tribute
Father Joe’s Village: https://my.neighbor.org/
American Cancer Society: https://www.cancer.org/
Services for Philip Dempewolf
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