Earl Edwin Damitz, Sr.
Earl Edwin Damitz, Sr., beloved husband, father, and grandfather, passed away peacefully at home on November 7, 2020, with Merrilyn, his wife of fifty-one years, by his side. Each of his children and their spouses, along with many grandchildren, visited with Earl before his passing.
Earl was born on May 20,1928 in Doty, Washington, the second son of LeRoy (Roy) and Rhoda (Spencer) Damitz. After graduating from Poulsbo Union High School, he served three years in the U.S. Army Air Corps helping manage PXs in both Korea and Japan.
In 1949, Earl enrolled in the accounting program at the University of Utah, and the following year he married his best friend’s sister, Shirla Malstrom. Earl excelled in his studies, taking 16-20 units while working 50+ hours per week. Upon completing his degree, he joined the Los Angeles office of Arthur Andersen, where he became known for his insightful estate/gift planning and personal integrity. Earl and Shirla had two children before her death in 1968.
In 1969, Earl married Merrilyn Hawkins, who had a son. Three years and a baby later, Earl and Merrilyn moved the “yours, mine, and ours” family of six to Santa Barbara so he could better serve his clients there. In 1981, Earl bought the Santa Barbara office from Arthur Andersen and established the present-day accounting firm of Damitz, Brooks, Nightingale, Turner & Morrisset. During those early years in Santa Barbara, Earl and Merrilyn were blessed with two more sons.
Earl influenced many individuals and organizations through both his professional and volunteer work. While serving on the board of directors for United Way of Santa Barbara County in the 1970s, Earl proposed and helped develop its first planned giving program. Brigham Young University and BYU-Hawaii also benefitted from his expertise in charitable giving. In 1974, BYU President Dallin H. Oaks acknowledged Earl’s service with the prestigious President’s Award.
An active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Earl served as a stake missionary, seventies group leader, young men leader, ward executive secretary, and member of the California Ventura Mission presidency. He also enjoyed participating in his sons’ scouting activities. Hiking, canoe building, river rafting: you name it, Earl did it. Playing golf with his kids was another favorite pastime—even his daughter got her own set of clubs before she was twelve.
The family took many trips together, but Earl and Merrilyn’s true home away from home was Laie, Hawaii. In addition to serving an LDS mission at the Polynesian Cultural Center, they regularly attended an annual week-long tax institute on the Island. Wanting to share their love for Polynesia with their posterity, Earl and Merrilyn generously facilitated the entire group gathering in Laie for the 30th Annual Damitz Family Reunion in 2017.
Earl Damitz was, above all else, a family man. Perhaps his greatest achievement was the way he put his family first, evidenced by his coming home like clockwork for family dinner, even in the middle of tax season. The fact that his family has always loved to spend time with each other—and looks forward to the day when they all can be together again—may be Earl’s most lasting and cherished legacy.
Earl is survived by his wife, Merrilyn Damitz, and five children: Shauna (Scott) Barrick, Earl, Jr. “Ed” (Jane) Damitz, John (Tiffany) Damitz, David (Carrie) Damitz, and Daniel (Christine) Damitz, seventeen grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife, Shirla; his brother, LeRoy; and his son, Jason.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that gifts be made in memory of Earl Damitz to the Endowment for United Way of Santa Barbara County, which Earl spearheaded in the 1970s. (www.unitedwaysb.org)