Scottsdale – Lawrence William DeSanto, MD, 85, of Scottsdale, AZ passed away at home on May 1, 2020, after a recent decline in health. He is survived by his wife Loralee, his children Greg DeSanto, MD, Lisa DeSanto Wemple and husband Timothy of Glen Ellyn, IL, Sara DeSanto and her husband James Lileks of Minneapolis, Jill DeSanto and her husband Jean Charles Courbois of Minneapolis; his former wife and mother of his children Marilyn DeSanto of Scottsdale, his nine grandchildren: Hannah, Ryan, and Julienne DeSanto, Daniel Wemple, MD, his wife Erin and great-granddaughter Nadine, Lauren Wemple Hawkridge and her husband John, Stephen Wemple, Natalie Lileks, and Alessandra and Laura Courbois.
Larry was born and raised in West Duluth, MN, son of Therese Rotondi DeSanto and Rudolph DeSanto. He attended St. James Catholic School and Denfield High School. He completed his premedical course work at the University of MN – Duluth and proceeded to the University of Minnesota for medical school, graduating in 1960. After an internship year in Duluth, he was drafted into the Air Force medical corps. He was based at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico and served overseas in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. He returned to complete his residency in Otolaryngology at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN and continued his training in head and neck surgery at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
Larry dedicated his career to the practice and teaching of head and neck surgery at the Mayo Clinic. He trained generations of surgeons at Mayo and around the world. He was a pioneer in establishing the subspecialty of head and neck surgery. Larry twice received the Teacher of the Year Award by the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine. His clinical interests and research were: head and neck oncology, ophthalmopathy of Graves Disease, vocal rehabilitation, and ethics and quality of life. Larry relocated from Rochester, MN to Scottsdale, AZ in 1987 as one of the original physicians to establish Mayo Scottsdale. He retired from the Mayo Clinic as a Professor of Otolaryngology in 1997.
Larry enjoyed many hobbies and interests including flying his plane, playing golf, swimming, studying military history, tinkering at his cabin at the Mogollon Rim, traveling the world, and participating in every event with his children and grandchildren. He served from 1977 – 1994 in the Air Force reserves and retired as a Colonel MC. His military service shaped him greatly and instilled a deep respect for his country. In retirement, Larry volunteered at the St. Vincent de Paul Clinic in Phoenix.
Larry and Loralee were married in 2001. They enjoyed many world travel adventures. The family is grateful to Loralee for her love and care of Larry following a brain injury in 2014 due to a complication from surgery. Larry taught us patience and gratitude through his recovery. Larry was the consummate teacher of how to be a better human.
His family will hold a celebration of life after the current restrictions on public gatherings have been relaxed. The family welcomes memorial gifts in Larry’s name to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Medical Clinic at PO Box 13600, Phoenix, AZ 85002.
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Published in The Arizona Republic from May 2 to May 10, 2020.