Ralph DeSantis, 78, Former OP village manager


Ralph Anthony DeSantis, 78, former village manager of
Oak Park (1980-1985) died on Aug. 17, 2008 in Naperville. Born in Newark, N.J., Mr. DeSantis received his undergraduate degree from Rutgers University and his MBA degree from the University of Michigan. After serving in the U.S. Army, his first job as a city manager was in Inkster, Mich., followed by Troy, N.Y.; Wethersfield, Conn.; Oak Park and Naperville (from 1986-89).


In
Naperville, he was described as having a “no-nonsense style” and managed the burgeoning city during a portion of its population boom. After Naperville, he served as village administrator of Oswego and performed administrative services for Glen Ellyn.


Former police chief Bill Knapp recalled that in Wetherfield, Conn., DeSantis’ accomplishments included leading the administrative effort to defeat a proposed horse racing track, overseeing the construction of the local community center, and putting in curb cuts on every block to make them wheelchair accessible.


Friends and family recalled his love of life, public service and good government, Frank Sinatra’s music, golf and a good joke. According to longtime friend Mary Ann Wycoff, he was also a big fan of Mickey Mouse, owned too many Mickey Mouse watches to count, and frequently took his family to Disney World.


Sara Bode, who was village president during most of DeSantis’ tenure in
Oak Park, noted that “Ralph had a wicked sense of humor, which often went unrecognized, and he had great respect for Oak Park, which also went unrecognized occasionally. Guiding the board with Ralph as manager was something of a struggle. He was a professional village manager and respected in his field. He knew his business. But sometimes he felt he knew it better than his community, which in Oak Park didn’t go over too well.


“He had been in
Flint, Mich., before he came to us and understood the dynamics and implications of racial diversity better than some of our citizens sometimes. He was tough, but he had the best interests of the village at heart. And Oak Park didn’t get where it is today by being a push-over.”


Agnes Stempniak, who worked as village personnel director under DeSantis, said he had to make some tough decisions as manager, which might explain why he wasn’t always popular. One of those decisions was introducing the entire village staff to computers-not an easy transition for some people, she recalled.


Stempniak said she met her husband at work and DeSantis liked to tease them, but he couldn’t make their wedding, so he took them to a Neil Diamond concert, and there he confessed that he, too, had met his spouse at work.


Ralph DeSantis was preceded in death by his parents and by his wife, Arlene, beside whom he will rest in
Wethersfield, Conn. He is survived by his daughter, Laura, and son, David, and by his sister and brother, nieces and nephews.


A memorial military service will be held at
, Tuesday, Aug. 26, at Rose Hill Funeral Home,

580 Elm St., Rocky Hill, Conn.


Memorial gifts may be made to Best Friends, an animal rescue service based in
Utah. The website is www.bestfriends.org. Messages for the family may be left on the guest book of The Hartford Courant newspaper at www.courant.com.


Robert Juel, 82,
Longtime local dentist, tennis player


Dr. Robert P. Juel, 82, of
Sister Bay, Wis., formerly of Oak Park, died on Aug. 18, 2008. Born on Feb. 5, 1926 in Chicago, he served in the Army in WWII and was stationed in Germany.


He attended
St. Olaf College, followed by dental school at Northwestern University, where he continued to teach for five years. He followed his father into the dental practice, then at the old Pioneer Bank Building at North and Pulaski avenues in Chicago. He spent the majority of his career in Oak Park, practicing for over 50 years, where his son, David, continues the family business. He retired at age 77 to Sister Bay.


In
Door County, Dr. Juel was active in the Lions Club and was a volunteer pianist at Scandia Village. He was involved with Stephen Ministries and a lifetime member of United Lutheran Church, where he was actively involved in the church choir. An avid tennis player and member of the River Forest Tennis Club, he died doing what he loved, playing the game.


For many years, Bob served on the Edison Park Children’s Home board and the
Lutheran General Hospital board. He taught Sunday school for 35 years and continued to sing in the choir at Shepherd of the Bay Lutheran Church in Door County. He served on the Young Life Committee in the Oak Park-River Forest area for 15 years and was active in leadership for Bible Study Fellowship.


Robert Juel is survived by his wife of 45 years, Vernamae; his daughters, Heidi (Daryush) and Kari (David); his son, David (Amy); and his two grandchildren, Ingrid and Kirsten. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Jennifer, in 1990 and his brothers, Martin and Leslie.


In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts are welcome for the Jennifer Juel Scholarship at
St. Olaf College,

1520 St. Olaf Ave., Northfield, Minn. 55057-1098
.


-Ken Trainor

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