Date of Birth
Date of Death
Salvatore "Sam" C. Santell Age 51 of Wasco, IL, died unexpectedly Wednesday evening, April 19, 2006 at Delnor Community Hospital, Geneva where he was taken following a heart attack at his home. BORN / EARLY YEARSHe was born May 8, 1954 in Warren, Ohio, the son of Umberto "Jack" and Naomi (Shirmer) Santell. Though his early years were spent in Leavittsburg, OH, he grew up in Warren, Ohio where his athletic career began in middle school as a "Turner Tiger" who would later help bring football fame to the Harding Panthers, winning two state championships in the early-seventies. Sam loved Warren, OH, especially the downtown including hangouts at the Hot Dog Shop, Garlic Fried Chicken at the Golden Stallion and Sunrise Pizza. The entire Mahoning Valley always held a special place in his heart as did the Cleveland Browns. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Adrian College in Michigan, where more importantly, he met and married Beth Werstler. Following a snowball fight between their dorms, they shared a cup of hot chocolate and it was "love at first laugh". Most aptly described as "two peas in a pod", they were wed on September 17, 1977, amid friends, family and faculty, at the Adrian College Chapel. Sam went on to study at The Ohio State University where he earned his masters degree in city and regional planning. He loved the challenge of political science, sociology and creating "community". Throughout his school years, he made friends with his quick wit and "stories of real life". Sam knew what it was like to be poor, yet rich with a desire to learn and perhaps to make a difference in the world. Through the years that followed college, Sam clearly made a difference and the legacy of his vision and spirit will be shared by generations yet unborn. His career began in Catlettsburg, KY where he worked for a five county region in the foothills of Appalachia. He created the Jesse Stewart Land Development Management Promotion Plan and later, in 1985, was awarded the honorary title of "Colonel" by the governor of Kentucky. In 1986, he moved to Illinois and went to work for the City St. Charles. He settled in "downtown" Wasco and five years later became Director of Planning and Special Programs for Kane County. Together, his department created the Kane County 2020 Land Resource Management Plan which won five state and national awards for excellence. Sam’s leadership and team building skills paved the way for many of the county’s innovative developments, such as rustic roads and the first farm protection program in the mid-west which initially preserved over 1,400 acres in permanent easement. In 2004, he became the Deputy Director of Planning and Programs for the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission and was instrumental in creating another award winning plan for which Sam and his colleagues will be honored April 25st, in San Antonio, TX, at the annual conference of the American Planning Association.MEMBERSHIPS & CONTRIBUTIONSSam was a member of the American Planning Association, the National Association of County Planners, the former Lieutenant Governor’s Illinois Rivers Coordination, the Urban Land Institute, the Congress for New Urbanism, the board of directors of SomerCor 504 Inc. LIFE NOTES Although Sam was a man with vision for "community" across the country, his heart never left his home and family. His "living legacy" is his children. For them, Sam’s love and devotion were measured in priceless times and places, not in the "things" of this world. Fishing for bass with his son, Stephen; dinners out with his daughter Megan and the many trips he made with his wife, Beth as well as the whole family, meant so much to him. Sam helped Stephen and Megan raise a veritable "zoo" of animals from rabbits and birds to lizards, snakes and a snapping turtle! Together his family dismantled, moved and rebuilt an 1840’s cabin in Wisconsin. They hiked the Grand Canyon three times, visited New Orleans, San Francisco and dozens of other places from which Sam, "the collector", brought home his own peculiar brand of treasures. Bird nests, dead bugs and "unique bits of nature" all found their place in Sam’s neatly organized drawers and cabinets along with strange looking keys to every kind of door, and memorabilia from every phase of family life. His personal pride and joy, and his goal for the years to come, was his woodworking shop. Here, Sam’s hands could fashion the beautiful things his agile mind imagined. SURVIVORS In addition to his wife, Beth, he leaves two children, Stephen and Megan;Four siblings:Marge (Joe) Fuchilla of Warren, OHBill (Diane) Santell of Niles, OHAnna (Ernest) Griffith of Phoenix, AZ andBert Santell of Niles, OH;His mother and father-in-law, Dr. Richard and Wilma Werstler of North Canton, OH;Two brothers-in-law:Jeff Werstler of Portland, OR andMark (Chris) Werstler of Adrian, MI;Sam was also a favorite uncle to many nieces and nephews:Billy, Brett, Lisa, Megan, Drew, Thomas, Wesley, Rebecca,Kimberly, Jacob, Erik and Alex, Eric and Amy and Santino.In addition, he leaves a "family of friends", made far and wide along life’s journey. PRECEDED He is preceded in death by his parents, Umberto "Jack" and Naomi Santell.VISITATION / FUNERAL Sam’s family is planning a celebration of his life; exactly the kind of thing Sam would have wanted. A gathering where friends, food and memories convene; a time and place where love and laughter exceed sorrow and tears and the greatest tribute to his life is the continuation of his spirit among those he loved. You are invited to join Sam’s family, Saturday, May 20, 2006 from 1-5 pm at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church, St. Charles. A brief service will be held in the sanctuary at 1pm and a "back yard" celebration will follow outside the lower level of the church from 1:30pm until 5pm. As your schedule may allow, you are welcome to come to either the service, the celebration to follow or both. Dress Code: Nothing black – wear comfortable casual clothes. Plan to munch and to share in an informal, casual afternoon. MEMORIAL A memorial has been established in Sam’s name to benefit open land preservation. Memorial checks may be made to the Sam Santell Memorial and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL 60119. Tributes and memories may also be forwarded to the family at the same address or through his obituary at www.conleycare.com. For further information, call 800-8-CONLEY (800-826-6539) or visit our website.
Memorial Service will be held at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church 1145 N. 5th Ave. St. Charles IL on Saturday May 20th from 1-5pm. A service will be held in the sanctuary at 1pm with a celebration from 1:30 - 5pm.