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In Memoriam

Philip Marazita

June 10, 1931 - October 12, 2018

Philip Marazita of Lansing, Michigan, passed away peacefully on October 9, 2018 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina surrounded by family. Philip was born June 10, 1931 in Niles, Michigan, the ninth child and seventh son of Francesco Marazita and Giuseppina Tignanelli Marazita who immigrated from Sant’Ippolito, Calabria Italy.

Phil was extremely proud of his father, a World War I veteran who received a purple heart from President Wilson for injuries received while fighting under Sergeant York, and then became a naturalized American citizen. Philip and his wife Ellie named their first-born son Frank after Phil’s father. Phil was proud to visit Ellis Island in 1992 to show two of his granddaughters, Ally and Amy, the name of his father engraved on the immigrant wall of honor.

Philip enjoyed a dream childhood growing up in Niles with his siblings, parents and neighbors playing sports, ping pong and “dirty” hearts. As a teenager, Phil worked with his father and brothers in the their family business, the Michigan Fruit Company, driving truck and making deliveries around Southern Michigan and Chicago. Philip attended Niles High School (1949-1953) where he played varsity football and acted in the play “South Pacific” his senior year.

Philip received a football and math scholarship to Olivet College which he attended for one year and then transferred to Central Michigan University (CMU) where he graduated in 1953 with his Bachelor of Arts in Education, magna cum laude. While attending CMU, he met Ellie whom he married on December 28, 1953. They honeymooned in New York City and Niagara Falls which started a lifetime of travel for the couple. On their 60th anniversary, they took a 73-day trip around the world stopping to see family and exchange students. Phil continued his education at the University of Michigan (Master of Arts, cum laude, 1953) and Michigan State University (EdS, cum laude, 1967).

Philip’s professional career spanned half a century and was dedicated to academics and athletics. Prior to 1963, Phil enjoyed coaching and teaching mathematics at a variety of Michigan Schools: Farwell High School, Unionville High School, North Branch High School, Sacred Heart Academy, Mount Pleasant (alma mater to a future son-in-law Keith Milan). At Sacred Heart, Phil was a math teacher plus athletic director and coach for football, basketball, baseball and track (1951-1953).

In 1963, Phil and his family moved to the Lansing area to raise their family of 7 children. Phil enjoyed a 25-year career with Waverly Community Schools as a football coach, Assistant Principal and Athletic Director at Waverly High School (1964-1975), Director of Waverly Athletics (1975-1978), and Coordinator of Athletic Intramurals and Community Services for Waverly Schools K-12. Waverly HS Athletic Director and Math Teacher (1979-89). He then capped off his career as the Athletic Director for Lansing Catholic Central (1989-2002).

Phil was inducted into the Michigan High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 1986, received the Michigan Athletic Director of the Year in 1987 and during his career organized 75 Michigan High School Athletic Association Events including: the Capital Area Conference, Cross Trails Soccer League, the Waverly Pop Warmer Flag Football, Waverly Boys and Girls 9th Grade Golf Teams and Waverly Gymnastics tournaments. From 1978 to 1981, Phil successfully designed, managed, and executed a $375,000 sports facility improvement project at Waverly Schools. Phil was a pioneer in expanding opportunities for girls’ athletics in the State of Michigan.

In 2014, the Waverly Community School Board renamed the Waverly Football stadium to the Marazita Waverly Community Football Stadium in recognition of Phil’s many contributions to Waverly Athletics. Philip Marazita was present to enjoy the stadium dedication ceremony with speakers including: Waverly Community School Board President Britton Slocum, Father John Klein, Pastor at St. Gerard’s Church, Pablo van Treek, former Waverly soccer player and exchange student/son of the Marazita family, Ken Henderson, former math student of Phil Marazita, and Julio Rivera, 1978 Waverly Graduate.

Phil was seriously committed to his community. He served as the President of the Waverly Jaycees, Board Member of the Lansing Italian American Club, Volunteer instructor at St. Gerard Evening Education.

Philip joined his family on extensive summer and spring break automobile and camping trips to every state in the continental United States where he and his wife took their children to visit all the state capitols and National Parks camping. His highlights were listening to his eldest daughter read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy on their first extensive trip to the Western United States. Philip joined his wife for 3 decades travelling to all 7 continents visiting children and family members and all the wonders of the world. Phil’s favorite vacations were always with or to visit family. Phil’s favorite non-family related vacation was on Safari in Kenya, Africa.

Phil and his wife also opened their home to welcome exchange students/sons and daughters from Chile (Pablo van Treek), Switzerland (Genevieve Contesse, Rene Widler, Francois Mau-Genou), Argentina (Gustavo Hernando) and Mexico (Alejandro Zenteno).

Phil was a talented craftsman. Over the years, he built and presented six dollhouses to his daughters and granddaughters, seven model ships to his sons, grandsons and sons-in-law, and countless pinewood derby entries, train-sets, and doll beds and other toys for his children. Phil was featured in ‘Dollhouse Miniatures’ Magazine, highlighting his dollhouses which followed his daughters around the world and the United States. Phil was a dedicated photographer and videographer. All family events, birthdays, holidays, graduations, vacations and exotic trips were thoroughly documented and curated with humorous narration. One of his famous films was of his son, Vincent as a class president upon his Harvard University Graduation introducing Ralph Nader-the cameraman did not focus on Mr. Nader….

Philip Marazita is survived by his wife of 64 ½ years: Eleanor Marie Harmon Marazita; and their seven children: Dr. Mary Marazita (spouse, Richard) of Pittsburgh, PA., Frank Marazita (spouse, Ava) of San Jose, CA, Dominic (spouse, Carmela) of Bradenton, FL, Vincent (spouse, Lorella) of Canoga Park, CA, Elizabeth Houston, TX, Candice (spouse, Keith) of White Fish Bay, WI, Daniel (spouse Michaelle) of Winston-Salem, NC, sixteen grandchildren: Marty, Tory, Cody, Tom, Sammie, Michelle, Monica, Katie, Ally, Amy, Zachary, Philip, Maggie, Sophie, Elijah, Izzi, Dominic, Zoe; and six great-grandchildren: Phoenix, Olympia-Moon, Jax, Jacob, Hunter, and Evelyn.

Sister-in-laws: Kathleen (Buchanan, MI), Irene (Niles, MI), Delphine (Stugis, MI), and Mary (Niles, MI). Brother-in-laws: Bill and Neal (Spouse, Janet), and numerous beloved nieces and nephews and their children. Philip was preceded in death by his parents, Francesco and Giuseppina, and 10 siblings: Joe (spouse: Josephine), Paul, Nick, Mary, Ernie, John, Virginia, Tony, Albert and Warren. His in-laws: William and Martha.

The Funeral Mass will be celebrated Saturday, October 20, 10:30 a.m., at St. Gerard Catholic Church with Rev. Fr. John Klein as celebrant. Interment will take place in Calvary Cemetery, Niles, MI at 2:30 p.m. The family will receive friends Friday from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. at the Palmer, Bush and Jensen Family Funeral Homes, Delta Chapel and Saturday beginning at 9:30 a.m. at St. Gerard Church.

For those wishing, memorial contributions may be made to The "Philip Marazita Memorial Fund" of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (URL to make a donation is:, or The College Scholarship Fund of the Italian American Club of Lansing, Michigan: mail donations to: The Italian American Club of Lansing- Scholarship Fund, In Honor of Philip Marazita, PO Box 27456, Lansing, MI 48901. Friends may send a condolence to the family at


Funeral Mass

Saturday, October 20, 2018 10:30 AM

St. Gerard Catholic Church 4437 West Willow Highway Lansing, Michigan 48917

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