Area lost a golf legend with recent passing of Billy Santor
Last Saturday the area lost one of the best players and gentlemen the game of golf has ever seen with the passing of William G. Santor. Growing up in the shadow of his father, the great player and competitor Andy, Billy soon carved out his own niche as a player and leader.
As an outstanding three letter athlete at East High School, upon graduation, Bill accepted a golf scholarship to Ohio University. Under the watchful eye of legendary coach Kermit Blosser, Bill’s game flourished. In 1958, Bill won the Ohio Inter Collegiate and in 1960 won the Mid-American Conference Individual Championship.
By the early 1960’s, Bill was considered to be one of the premier amateur golfers in Ohio. His strengths were long drives, deadly accurate irons, and good course management. Bill not only loved competition, he thrived on it. He and his long-time best friend and golfing partner Jim Lucarell won virtually every best-ball tournament in northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Bill especially made his mark on the Penn-Ohio Golf League where he garnered low-average honors six times. But his greatest accomplishment, however, was as team captain and president of the league for over thirty years. During his reign, as the league flourished, the Youngstown team won over ten championships. As a tribute to Bill, upon retirement, the league created a plaque displaying the Champions Through the Years and named it the Bill Santor Award.
Bill also made his mark in the YMCA golf league at Mill Creek as a captain where he captured low-average honors four times and countless team championships. If there was a “Greatest Golfer” competition in the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s, Bill’s name would have surely been on the trophy many times.
Bill’s greatest passion in golf however was the Ohio Publinx-a state-wide amateur golf championship. As a player, Bill’s best showing was a runner-up finish. He consistently finished in the top ten. Bill became district representative and what a great one he was. His personal touch with players helped him recruit sometimes thirty or more players from the Youngstown area into the event. Today, our area is lucky to find one or two players in the Publinx.
Billy was as competitive on the golf course as anyone but he was always gracious. Once he got off the course, he and his friends could be found having a cold beer or two. On Tuesday night, after golf, you could find Billy and his friends at the same table at the Boulevard Tavern. There was never any bragging or gloating. Billy would tell interesting stories about other people, never about himself.
Bill is a member of the Curbstone Coaches Hall-of -Fame as well as the East High School Hall-of-Fame. But of all of his accomplishments, the person Bill Santor is greater than the golfer Bill Santor. He is and always has been one of the finest persons that I have ever known. I have never heard him say a bad word about anybody, nor have I ever heard a bad word said about him. It has been an absolute pleasure knowing him and playing for him.
Bill lived a great life doing what he liked best, playing golf and being with family and friends. When his wife, Nancy, died in 2004, a part of Billy died along with her. Only 75 when he died, Billy spent the past few years in assisted living and in hospitals. It is sad to see it end that way. Hopefully, Bill will always be remembered the way he lived and the contributions he made to his friends and family. I’m sure William G. Santor will never be forgotten.