Orvano "Van" George Sansone was born on July 2, 1922, to Florence and Rocco Sansone in Raritan, New Jersey. He was a first generation Italian and the youngest of five children. Upon entering kindergarten, the school changed his name from Orvano to Orville which he maintained throughout his life, but, always using his family nickname of Van. He was a graduate of Raritan High School and received his bachelor's degree from Rider College in New Jersey. Immediately, after graduation, he joined the Army Air Corps where he was sent to St. Louis, Mo. While in the military, he met and married Babette Goodman. Two children were born of this union; Pamela Sansone and David Sansone. Babette passed away in l959. Upon discharge from the military, he returned to New Jersey going to work for Johnson and Johnson in their office headquarters and earned his CPA credentials.|
In l946, with asthma plaguing him and at his doctor's insistence for a dryer climate, Van and a friend drove to California. Van always said that he could finally start to breath about the time they reached Oklahoma City. The friend's destination was Riverside, California, where Van settled also. Van went to work for a Riverside general contractor managing his office and learning the construction business. In 1960, a long-time dream became a reality when he formed his own construction company, O. G. Sansone Construction. Van became very successful building bridges and over one hundred miles of freeways throughout the state of California. Locally, one of the recognizable bridges is the overpass on I-805 at Mira Mesa. That particular bridge has the initials of Van, Colleen, Tom, Mark and Steven incorporated into the structure.
In l96l while building the Pomona Mall in Pomona, California, he was introduced to his present wife, Colleen Brewington, by James Baker, the then mayor of Pomona. Working for a CPA, Colleen's office was located next to Mr. Baker's office and the mayor thought this could be a good match, which it was. They were married on August 25, l962, in St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Riverside, California. They had three boys, Thomas J. Sansone, Mark A. Sansone and Steven Van Sansone. While in Riverside, they were members of the Victoria Country Club, the second oldest country club in California. Van became a Riverside City Councilman and was head of the Riverside Planning Commission.
While building I-805, one Saturday in 1967, they drove a friend down to Rancho Santa Fe to look at property for the friend. With no intentions of buying for themselves, they bought a lot on Las Planideras where they built a home and raised their children. Thomas, Mark and Steven all attended school in Rancho Santa Fe.
Van was an avid golfer joining the R.S.F. Golf, Victoria Club, Las Vegas Country Club and La Quinta Country Club. He played in many pro-am tournaments and at one time had a 4 handicap. There was nothing that he liked more than betting on a game of golf. Putting was his game. Because of his love of golf, he wanted to be closer to the Club. In l978 they bought a lot on Mimulus where they built their present home.
Van loved golf, cooking for his family, his home and garden. He was as supportive of his wife as she was of him in starting a business. After Colleen worked as a real estate agent, Van encouraged her to get her broker's license in 1978 and later open her own real estate office in the Village of Rancho Santa Fe. They were always behind each other. About 15 years ago, Van started having health issues with a hip replacement, and then a plate put on his spinal cord for spinal stenosis. He had some great doctors doing those surgeries - Dr. Craig Swenson and Dr. Ray Linovitz.
When he was forced to give up his golf permanently, life was never quite the same for him. In April 2012, Van was taken to the hospital by his son, Steven, with pneumonia and then transferred to Las Villas de Carlsbad for therapy. In July 2012, after having a year and a half of difficulty in swallowing, he elected to have a feeding tube inserted. He later contracted a contagious infection. On August 6, 2012, he was removed from the Las Villas de Carlsbad Skilled Nursing facility and taken to Mission View Health Care in San Luis Obispo, California, where he passed away on March 5, 2013.
Van leaves his wife of over 50 years, Colleen of Rancho Santa Fe; daughter, Pamela Henderson of Ladera Ranch; sons, David (Jennifer) of Avila Beach, Tom (Linda) of Rancho Santa Fe, Mark of Manitou Springs, Colorado, and Steven (Violetta) of Rancho Santa Fe; grandchildren, David Henderson, Vanessa (John) Henderson Moody, Luke Sansone and Matt Sansone of San Luis Obispo and Francesca Sansone and Rocco Sansone of Rancho Santa Fe; and two great-grandchildren of Ladera Ranch. He was preceded in death by his parents, four brothers and one sister.
Published in the Rancho Santa Fe Review from Mar. 21 to Mar. 28, 2013