Lawrence William DeSanto M.D.
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Lawrence William DeSanto, MD

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 corp. 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 Otolayrngology 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.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Arizona Republic from May 2 to May 10, 2020.
Celebration of Life
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8 entries
May 23, 2020
I met Larry in the 90s and I can only say good words about him. He came to Madrid, Spain on several occasions and we enjoyed many good moments together working together in surgery, having a few beers, ham, wine and olives, playing golf, etc.. and his memory for me es indelible. Great friend and best teacher, I learned many things from him, but above all in my memory his goodness will always remain. A great person has left us. Rest in Peace
Néstor Galindo
May 17, 2020
I don't know where to begin in describing my relationship with Larry. For over 30 years he was my golfing buddy, my flying buddy, and my best friend. Larry and I first met shortly after he moved to Arizona with the Mayo Clinic. He stopped in to my flying business at the Scottsdale Airport shortly after he arrived from Rochester looking for an airplane to rent. Thus began a friendship which would last for the next 33 years. We both had military aviation backgrounds and shared a passion for golfing, flying, and enjoying good food and wine. Competition on the golf course, with bets of $1 for each hole won, was intense at times. Larry liked to tell others with whom we were playing golf how in twenty-five years of competing with each other, less than $25 dollars had changed hands. Goodbye and good luck my friend as you head West. I shall miss you.
Bill Preece
May 14, 2020
May 12, 2020
One of the very first meetings I attended as a first year resident was in Palm Springs with Larry as the featured speaker/instructor in 1974. I made it a point to get to know him as he was obviously one of the giants of Head and Neck Cancer Surgery. Imagine my surprise when I received a call from him in 1987 asking to meet to discuss his move to AZ with regards who the major players were in his chosen sub specialty. We remained friends thru the years. I am so very lucky to have known him.
Phil Daspit
May 10, 2020
It was such a pleasure to know Larry. We especially enjoyed our Friday night dinners at his favorite Italian restaurants. And Paula appreciated his ENT advice years ago when her head and neck cancer battle began. May God bless you and Larry's entire family, Loralee.
Chuck Knight
May 7, 2020
Grief can be so hard, but our special memories help us cope. Remembering you and your loved one today and always.
May 6, 2020
Dr. DeSanto was the physician I dealt with at Mayo Clinic about 36 years ago when I was a scared 13 year old undergoing surgery for a life threatening tumor in my nose. Dr. DeSanto was kind, understanding, and explained things so well to me. The surgery he did saved my life, for which I am forever grateful. I can remember him speaking to me like it was yesterday-he made that much of an impression on me. He changed my life forever by keeping me alive! I'm saddened by hearing about his passing... I wish there were more people like him in the world.
David Schilling
May 5, 2020
I am sad to hear this news. Dr. DeSanto work with my father at Mayo for many years and I have fond memories of him and the stories my dad told me. I hope you find it special that every time I see a small plane flying over my house I think of Dr. DeSanto.
Drew McDonald
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