Retired Judge Philip M. Saeta died peacefully in Bel Air on Dec. 27 at the age of 88 after a four-year challenge with mesothelioma.
Phil is survived by his wife, Judith A. Enright; his children, David (wife Leslie), Peter (wife Linda), Sandra (husband Alan McDaniel); and his sister Sonia Michelson. He was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, Joanne E. Hixson Saeta, and their son Stephen Saeta.
He enjoyed watching his eight grandsons — Brennan (wife Jordanna), Andrew (wife Charlotte), Ethan, Matthew, Michael, Ryan, Jack and Sam — grow up and prosper in their individual ways. His family feelings were always strong and quite expanded and enhanced by many relatives found through his study of genealogy.
Phil was born on Feb. 21, 1931, in Hollywood to parents Maurice Saeta and Elizabeth Jacobs Saeta. He lived in Los Angeles until college, then in South Pasadena, Pasadena, Highland Park, back to South Pasadena and finally in Bel Air.
He attended public schools in Los Angeles (Ivanhoe, King, and Marshall High), Stanford University (AB, 1953), and Stanford Law School (LLB/JD, 1957). He served in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955.
Phil married Joanne Edith Hixson on Aug. 28, 1954, in South Pasadena. After law school and the Army he began working as an attorney at Beardsley, Hufstedler & Kemble (1958–1964). He served on the Los Angeles Municipal Court (1964–1975), the Los Angeles Superior Court (1975–1991), and as a private judge through 2018.
Phil was heavily involved in state, county and local bar associations concerned with alcohol abuse. He was also very active in state and national judicial committees, including two terms on the executive board of the California Judges Association and president of the National Conference of Special Court Judges of the American Bar Association. Phil had extensive judicial teaching experience in the municipal and superior courts, and at the California and National judicial colleges.
He was a longtime board member of Volunteers of America (Los Angeles), the American Jewish Committee and Dispute Resolution Services of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
Phil married Judith A. Enright on Sept. 1, 2014, and resided in Bel Air.
He was an avid traveler who visited two-thirds of the world’s countries, a dedicated attendee of all things cultural in Los Angeles, a devoted reader of his beloved L.A. Times and a daily player on his parents’ Steinway.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Jan. 26. In lieu of flowers, if you wish to make a donation, consider the VOA or the AJC.