SANTIAGO--Thomas. On October 26, 2020, Thomas Santiago, 63, of West Milford NJ died from complications from metastatic cancer. Thomas Santiago was born on February 16th, 1957 in the Bronx, NY to Tomas and Margarita Santiago, who migrated to New York City from Puerto Rico in the 1940's. As a small child he showed a clear purpose and independence - ironing and organizing his clothes by himself! After graduating from Adlai Stevenson High School in 1974, he started working as a construction worker in the high-rise business and would himself steadily rise to become a construction manager, layout engineer and project manager. He would eventually join and lead Citigroup's North America real estate operations. A skilled and empathetic manager who earned senior leadership positions despite not having completed college, he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Real Estate from NYU in 2009. In 2017 The Hispanic Executive honored Tom as one of their "Top 10 Lideres" in industry, heralding him as "The Designer," a creator of great environments that enable a great employee experience. As guest editor Javier Palomarez, observed "While most of us may not recognize the meticulous planning that goes into our physical workspace, we certainly know when something is amiss. Thanks to his leadership, Tom's colleagues are able to work in an environment that allows them to perform at their best." As a Latino Executive, Tom was a generous mentor to many professionals and a promoter of Hispanic businesses as a fundraiser for the National Hispanic Business Group. He was also an active supporter of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation and served on the national board of directors for the DRI's empire ball. After two decades with Citigroup, he went on to serve as Senior Vice President for Global Real Estate for WarnerMedia where he oversaw the sale of the Time Warner Center and the development of the new corporate headquarters. This accomplishment, which involved the complex move from eight buildings to a single one at the Hudson Yards on Manhattan's west side would be both the pinnacle and capstone of his career and represents an enduring contribution to the world of corporate real estate. Tom always found himself in motion - training for marathons, cycling races, and hiking abroad. An avid fisherman, we would cast his line around the world. Later in his life, he became a golf enthusiast where he spent countless hours honing his craft on and off the course. A voracious reader and engaged learner, Tom had an insatiable intellectual curiosity, a passion for art, a distinct affinity for wine, and a keen eye for interior design which was curated by his own sensibilities and refined by his close relationships with friends and colleagues. Tom cherished and cultivated these relationships, especially with his family and epitomized the phrase "zest for life." He is preceded in death by his father Tomas, his mother Margarita, and his daughter Lulu. He is survived by his loving wife Lourdes, three sons Christopher, Matthew, and Justin and seven grandchildren, Ryan, Isaia, Bianca, Christian, Erielle, Thomas and Lucia. Tom is also survived by his daughters-in-law, Amber, Katie and daughter- in-law to be April; his aunts Irma, Elsa and Uncle Hector; his sisters Margaret and Miriam as well as several nephews, nieces, and cousins. As Tom recently observed: "I used to think that the most important thing in life was Happiness (to be happy). But I was wrong, the first, and most important, is Gratitude. Gratitude is first, then comes Happiness." We are grateful to have had Tom impact our lives with such vigorous generosity.
Published in New York Times on Nov. 22, 2020.