Dcn. Reed Eugene Santa, a “gentle giant” known for his great faith and generosity toward others, died Nov. 19. He was 89.
His ministry in the diaconate for the Diocese of Phoenix spanned 18 years. Dcn. Santa was ordained in 1993, and spent four years at Holy Cross Parish in Mesa. He was then assigned to All Saints Parish about five miles north. That’s where he started a bereavement ministry and served until he retired from active service in 2011. Dcn. Santa was also active in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul where he served the poor and needy in the community.
“Dcn. Reed was friendly, outgoing, loving and never had an unkind word to say about anyone,” said Fr. Robert Caruso, All Saints pastor. “He will be deeply missed.”
Originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, Dcn. Santa was born in 1926 to Eugene and Elizabeth (Korngable) Santa. He graduated from Johnson High School in 1944 at the age of 17.
Dcn. Reed Santa
Born: Aug. 21, 1926 in St. Paul, Minn.
Ordained: Oct. 30, 1993
Service in the Diocese of Phoenix
- Holy Cross Parish in Mesa, 1993–1997
- All Saints Parish in Mesa, Assigned in 1997
- Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Died: Nov. 19, 2015
He enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II, having served in the Atlantic and South Pacific as a gunner’s mate on the destroyer U.S.S. Charles P. Cecil DD-835. He was honorably discharged in 1946, and attended Dunwoody Industrial Institute on the GI Bill learning the printing trade.
Dcn. Santa worked for Perfection Type as a monotype operator and then the City of Maplewood until he retired in 1984, when he and Betty moved to Arizona. He lost his beloved wife of 53 years on June 19, 2001.
Dcn. Santa was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Betty (née Stephani), infant daughter Barbara and grandson Erik Mortenson. He is survived by six children: Sue (Gerald Mortenson) of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, Mary (Gary Hite) of Maplewood, Minnesota, John (Penny) of Longville, Minnesota, Stephen (Linda) of Crystal, Minnesota, Chris (Larry Anderson) of Mesa, and Grace (Jack Wachlarowicz) of Mahtomedi, Minn; twelve grandchildren: Beth (Andy), Kathy (Scott), Jessica, Carrie, Michelle (Steve), Matthew, Andrea, Joshua, Jenna (Emmett), Brendan, Amanda and John, and thirteen great-grandchildren.
Dcn. Santa’s body will be returned to St. Paul, and a memorial service will be arranged at Transfiguration Catholic Church. Burial will be at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota
In lieu of flowers, memorials in Dcn. Santa’s name may be directed to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at All Saints Catholic Church, or Friends for Life Animal Rescue, 143 W. Vaughn Ave., Gilbert, AZ 85233.