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Lee Chapin Sammis

February 14, 2013

Lee Chapin Sammis passed away February 12, 2013, in his home in Newport Beach, CA, where he lived and built his business for the past 50 years.  He was born on February 15, 1931 in Los Angeles to MIT graduates Ford Woodruff and Constance Sharp Sammis.  His family lived all over the country during the depression until settling in Pasadena, CA where he graduated in 1949 from South Pasadena High School.  The experience of frequently being the new kid in class shaped his scrappy nature and he became an inveterate reader, mechanical tinkerer and collector extraordinaire of many things.  Ambition and tenacity being innate, he was a teamster in San Pedro at age 14 for 65¢ an hour, had his driver’s license at the same age, trained with legendary boxer Canto Robletto to win a Golden Gloves title as a teen, played football with distinction at South Pasadena High and won intramural track meets in the 100 yard dash, all while faithfully keeping a full social calendar.  He often hitchhiked down to the beach at Balboa in those years to sail the family Thistle, swing at the Rendezvous Ballroom and attend Bal Week festivities.  He attended UCLA and UC Berkeley where he was an active member of Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity and Skull & Keys, amongst others.  Lee also worked as a hasher in the Kappa House at Cal to supplement his diet and “foster fraternal relations.”  After college he enlisted in the Army, being discharged in 1957 a 1st Lieutenant stationed at Fort Ord.  He married his beloved wife, Joan Howard of Pasadena, in 1955 and they settled in their hometown in 1957.  He worked in Los Angeles for RA Rowan and in 1962, the family moved to Newport Beach, where he was a founding member of the Orange County office of Coldwell Banker on PCH in Corona del Mar.

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