Daniel “Dan” Thomas Martinelli died peacefully on October 9, 2019 surrounded by his loved ones after complications following an 18 month battle with cancer. Dan was 69.
Dan was born in Brooklyn, NY on September 15, 1950 to Charles B. and Dorothy (Bottcher) Martinelli. He moved from Brooklyn to Hialeah, Florida when he was seven and graduated from Hialeah High School. He attended University of Miami and graduated from Florida International University with a bachelor’s degree in Biology, Chemistry and Secondary Education.
Dan was the beloved Executive Director of the Treasure Coast Wildlife Center where he served for more than 25 years, educating people of all ages and rehabilitating sick, injured and orphaned wildlife. Dan was blessed with an incredible gift for public speaking and his booming voice and captivating personality are remembered fondly by all those fortunate enough to have heard him give a wildlife presentation or serve as the face and voice of the wild creatures he served with devotion.
Dan was passionate about educating people of all ages about the wonders of the natural world. He was equally as skilled at rehabilitating the animals themselves and in all his years of handling venomous reptiles had never been bitten. Dan was witty, stubborn, and never met a sentence that he couldn’t make longer. He was a lover of dive bar food, enjoyed visiting national parks in his RV, enjoyed boating and sport fishing and never met a turtle that he didn’t like. His spirit will live on through the creatures, large and small, which he helped care for and then released so that they could live out their days wild and free.
Dan is survived by his daughter and son-in-law Joanna Martinelli-Deisley and Bill Deisley of Red Cloud, NE; his daughter and son-in-law Melissa and Danny Saban of Durham, NC; and his brothers Charles E. Martinelli of Pembroke Pines; his brother and sister-in-law Edward and Teresa Martinelli, Sr. of Loxley, AL; his sister Marlene M. Kotsch of Allentown, Pa.; three grandchildren; his partner Vikki Rawls of Miami, FL; his former wife Stefanie Cheatwood; and many cousins, his closest being Mark DeVroedt and his wife Jeanette of Homestead, FL as well as many nieces, nephews and grandnieces and grandnephews. He is preceded in death by his parents Charles B. and Dorothy (Bottcher) Martinelli of Brooklyn, NY.
A Celebration of Life will take place on Sat., Nov. 9 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Treasure Coast Wildlife Center located at 8626 SW Citrus Blvd in Palm City. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Dan’s life and love for wildlife. Please bring your own chairs or blankets to sit on.
Checks may be made payable to the Treasure Coast Wildlife Center and mailed to 8626 SW Citrus Blvd., Palm City, FL 34990.