Louis J. DeLara, 89, a resident of Imperial Beach, passed away peacefully in Pittsburgh Friday, Jan. 29 surrounded by his loving family.
Lou was born on Oct. 31, 1926 in Ambridge, Pa to the late Elvira Mastrean and John Martinez DeLara. He is survived by his sister Alice Stratico (Joseph; deceased), a brother John DeLara (Peggy) and sister Antoinette Winslow (John; deceased) also nieces/nephews Luanne Romantine (Ralph), Joseph Stratico Jr. (Deborah), Mary Ann Fertal (Andrew) Angela Winter (Thomas) Tina Goldstein and Robin Thurman as well as many beloved great nieces and nephews.
In 1943, at the age of 17 Lou volunteered to join the U.S. Navy. During Wordl War II he participated in four invasions in the Pacific front including the Battle of Leyte and the Battle of Okinawa and was part of the armada that prepared for the invasion of Japan. He served on USS Bremeton and USS Capricornus (AKA57). Lou left the Navy after the war but returned in 1950 for the Korean War and served on the USS Delta (AR9) before beginning Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) training. Lou was in UDT class 6 and was proud to carry the title of UDT/Frogman/Navy SEAL. He deployed three times to the Korean War as part of UDT. During his first Korean deployment Lou realized he had found a career and a home.
Lou remained in the Navy after the war being assigned at various times to UDT 1, UDT 11, Beach Jumper Unit 1, and undertaking additional training including Salvage Diving and Explosive Ordnance Disposal. With the EOD training Lou also served in the Vietnam War. Lou achieved the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer before retiring from the Navy in 1971.
After his service Lou made Imperial Beach his home. He loved the weather and wanted to stay close to his Navy family. Lou was a very successful entrepreneur. He purchased the El Tampico Bowling Alley and turned it into a successful restaurant/bar/disco called the Classic Three. He obtained a real estate license, and as a licensed general contractor he built and sold apartment buildings, general warehouse facilities and individual residences in and around the San Diego area.
Lou loved his family, his friends, his cars, his dog “Willie” and his life in southern California. He was loved by all and will be sorely missed. According to his wishes no formal services will be held. Preparations are underway to have Lou’s ashes scattered at sea.
Friends are welcome to join a “Celebration of Life” memorial held at the Fleet Reserve Association Branch 289 at 659 Silver Strand Blvd., Imperial Beach on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 at 1 p.m.
The family would like to extend a special thank you to friends Susie Rauch and retired Master Chief Brad Lucas for their help and concern over the years and particularly over the last months.