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Davis, Mary (Featured)  
Mary Davis, the cheeky, indomitable founder of the Portofino Hotel and Marina who broke down barriers as one of the country's first female racecar drivers and a pioneer of Redondo Beach waterfront development, died this week. She was 86. Davis passed away Monday from heart failure in her home in La Quinta near Palm Desert after a years-long battle with dementia. The San Diego native had quite the fascinating life, with stints tinkering with tank engines during World War II, driving Aston Martins and Mercedes-Benzes in races across the country through the 1950s, opening a West Hollywood restaurant and later as the longtime owner of the Portofino, the state's first hotel situated in the center of a small-craft harbor surrounded on three sides by water.
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Published in Daily Breeze on Dec. 12, 2014
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