Richard V. Santoro
Dick Santoro, 89, born Richard Verone Santoro, of Guilford, and Nantucket, Massachusetts, died peacefully at home after a long illness on March 17. Elizabeth, his loving wife of 40 years, was by his side.
The only son of Mary and Daniel Santoro of Wallingford, Dick grew up with his two sisters, Barbara and Audrey. He was one of the first “townies” to attend Choate Preparatory School, going on to Wesleyan University in Middletown and graduating in 1955. After graduation, Dick enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving for two years in Germany. He then spent time in Ann Arbor, Michigan, trying out law school; in Indianapolis, working as a bank teller; and in Philadelphia, getting his MBA at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Finally settling back in Connecticut, Dick spent the next 27 years working as a manager for Southern New England Telephone Company (SNETCo) in New Haven.
Dick and his first wife, Lois, built a unique architect-designed house in Guilford in 1969, where he lived until his death. They also purchased interval-ownership property on Nantucket Island in 1979 (4 weeks/year).
In 1987, Dick took an early retirement offer from SNET Corporation which allowed him to spend more years of his life retired than he did working! He loved retirement, often saying that people should retire first, then go to work later. Of his many retirement projects, he enjoyed building a screened gazebo in his backyard, as well as expanding the kitchen deck. He also wrote a history of his neighborhood, Robinson’s Woods, to share with his neighbors.
In 2013, on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, when the archives of Jackie’s correspondence from that time were opened to the public for the first time, Dick was unexpectedly contacted by several editors who wanted to use a letter he had written to his sister, Barbara, in 1963, expressing his feelings about the tragedy and its impact on the future of American politics. Unbeknownst to him, Barbara was moved to forward the letter to Jackie and had never told Dick. Ultimately, his letter was used in two books, Dear Mrs. Kennedy, as well as a book and a documentary by the same name, Letters to Jackie.
With his inquiring mind, generous heart, and compassionate spirit, Dick was a true Renaissance man. His interests ranged from architecture to astronomy, reading to travel, and science to music. He loved all sports, particularly sailing, tennis, baseball, skiing, and basketball. Along with Elizabeth, he was passionate about dogs, especially beagles, and he was known all over Guilford for the long walks that he took with their first beagle, DeeOhGee. He once calculated how many times around the world he had walked her. After DeeOhGee, they went on to volunteer with the beagle rescue group BONES (Beagles Of New England States), doing home visits, transports, and fostering. They also rescued four more beagles: Bella, Elvis, Rosie, and Zuko. Particularly close to his heart in his final years was his membership in a very special group called the ROMEOs (Retired Old Men Eating Out). This group meets every week over breakfast or lunch to celebrate their friendship and provide support for each other.
Dick is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; his sister and brother-in-law, Audrey and Richard Zannini of Hampton, New Hampshire; and three nephews, Brian Bilodeau of Oxnard, California, Bruce Bilodeau of Park City, Utah, and Richard Nieto of Pulaski, Pennsylvania; as well as two great-nephews, (Benjamin Bilodeau and Andrew Nieto); and one great-niece (Emily Bilodeau). He is also survived by a godson, Matthew Dannemann, of Denver, Colorado. He was predeceased by his first wife (Lois Marshall Santoro); his parents (Mary and Dan Santoro); and his older sister and brother-in-law (Barbara and John Nieto).
A Celebration of Life/Happy 90th Birthday party is planned for the fall.
Special gratitude goes to all who helped care for Dick in his final year of life, including his Home Based Primary Care Team from the VA, his aides from Home Instead and Atrinity Home Health, the Guilford Seniors bus service, the Town of Guilford EMS, and his home hospice team. Donations in Dick’s memory may be made to any of the following:
B.O.N.E.S., P.O. Box 1510, New Boston, NH 03070. Make checks payable to “B.O.N.E.S., Inc.”;
GBS/CIDP Foundation International, International Office, 375 East Elm Street Suite 101, Conshohocken, PA 19428;
Home Care Plus — Community Healthcare & Hospice, 753 Boston Post Road, Guilford, CT 06437;
Meals On Wheels, 310 State Street, Unit 200, Guilford, CT 06437.