Passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family on May 9, 2019.
John, known to most as Des, was born in San Francisco on January 2, 1933 to John and Mary Devlin of Armagh, Ireland. He was the eldest of four children.
He attended St. Ignatius College Preparatory where he played football, basketball and baseball and was a member of the diving team. After graduating in 1951, he enlisted in the United States Air Force wherein he served four years and fought in the Korean War. While stationed in Germany, he joined the Sembach Motorcycle Club and became a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast. Soon thereafter, he met and married Marilyn (Whooley) Devlin, who remained the love of his life for fifty-seven years.
Des was a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather, and he will be greatly missed by his pride and joy: children Kathleen (Edgar) Costa, Linda (Alfredo) Pacheco, John (Maura) Devlin, Patricia (Jeffrey) Hart, and Barbara (Joel) O’Daniel; his adored grandchildren Erik, Devin, and Veronica (Cody); Elyse, Shanley (deceased), and Robert; Nora and Jack; Nicole, Shane, and Desmond; and Kendall and Logan; his brother, Denis (Helen) Devlin and his treasured nieces and nephews. Des was preceded in death by his cherished wife Marilyn and his brother Pat.
Des and Marilyn married in San Francisco in 1959 and moved to San Mateo, where they raised their five children and remained for forty-four years before moving to northern California. Des worked for the San Mateo Fire Department for twenty-nine years. During his tenure he was promoted to Captain in 1969, served as an official of the Fire Fighters’ Union Local 2250 and was a friend and mentor to many. He was selected as a recipient of the California State Firemen’s Association Valor Award in 1977, and upon his retirement in 1987 was commended for his service by the Council.
Des and Marilyn shared a love of traveling, soccer, and supporting the local sports teams. He coached youth soccer for many years. He was an avid outdoorsman, who enjoyed camping, fishing and nature. He passed his appreciation and knowledge of the natural world on to his children and grandchildren. Des was a lifelong reader and learner, who had a twinkle in his eye and a wry sense of humor. In addition to his work as a firefighter, he supported his family as a commercial fisherman in the rough waters outside the Golden Gate. He built his own boats, tied his own flies, learned to fly planes and enjoyed motorcycling, woodworking and playing the harmonica. As a boy he was particularly interested in falconry, and tamed and adopted many wild animals, including a fox, a skunk, and a raccoon. As a young man, he trained his pet Airedales, who often took home trophies from local dog shows. His love of the ocean kept him swimming, fishing and scuba and abalone diving well into his later years.
Des will be remembered for his tenacity, wit, love of nature and commitment to family, and will be kept in the hearts and minds of those who knew and loved him.
Family and friends are welcome to attend a Vigil Service on Thursday, June 6, 2019 at 5:30 pm at Sneider & Sullivan & O’Connell’s, 977 S. El Camino Real, San Mateo, followed by refreshments and reception at the Elks Lodge, 229 W. 20th Avenue, San Mateo. In lieu of flowers, if desired, donations to the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s in Des’ memory will be appreciated.