Former Highwood Mayor David M. Santi died Nov. 12 after a long struggle with Parkinson's Disease. He was 87, and had been living in Northbrook in recent years.
From 1965 to 1969, Mr. Santi was mayor of the small city in which he was raised. He was born in Des Moines, Iowa, to Josephine and Francesco Santi on Dec. 6, 1925.
"David had Parkinson's for quite a while," said Yones Lawler, whose husband Bill and she were close friends for "a very, very long time" with Mr. Santi and his wife of 62 years, Lenore. Bill Lawler attended high school with Mr. Santi's younger brother, Ray Santi, in the Class of 1950.
"It's so sad to see someone with Parkinson's," said Yones Lawler. "You had this very wholesome person kind of fading away right before your eyes."
Friends say Mr. Santi was defined by his warm smile, leadership ability, courage, pleasant demeanor and loyalty to those he grew up with. He attended Oak Terrace Elementary School and Highland Park High School. At Northwestern University, Mr. Santi earned a degree in political science.
After serving as an alderman in Highwood, Mr. Santi ran for mayor. Yones Lawler, a Highwood native along with husband, said, "We supported David. He was a fine man and we admired him because of his intelligence and dedication to Highwood."
Teta Minuzzo, president of the Highwood Historical Society, taught at Oak Terrace Elementary School for 35 years. Her parents were close to Mr. Santi, she said.
"Mr. Santi was known as a good mayor," Minuzzo said. "People had very positive feelings about him. He came before the rough and tumble years that followed" in Highwood politics.
Bruno Bertucci said his late wife, Lena, and Mr. Santi were classmates coming up through the Highwood and Highland Park school systems.
"We were family friends for many years, going way back to the 1920s," said Bertucci.
"David's career in Highwood was always being watched," said Bertucci. "At the time he went to college he was one of the few in the community who did."
Bertucci said managing the finances of a small city is not easy.
"But as mayor, David did very well in financial operations," Bertucci said. "He was smart and had a good council working with him.
"Many times after people leave Highwood nobody talks about them," Bertucci observed. "But everyone loved David Santi, and when he left people talked about him fondly."
Mr. Santi had a 35-year career with a global insurer and risk management company, Marsh & McClennan, retiring as a senior vice president.
When Mr. Santi accepted a transfer from Marsh & McClennan to its Milwaukee-area operation in the late 1960s, he was no longer in position to run for a second term as mayor, said Yones Lawler.
Mr. Santi graduated as a naval air cadet and entered service in World War II. During the war, Mr. Santi served as a flight instructor at the former Glenview Naval Air Station, said Bill Lawler.
Mr. Santi's hobbies included politics, dancing, curling, and golf.
Services have been held.