Thomas G. Santoro, 64, of Philadelphia, a retired Cherry Hill history teacher, died Saturday, April 12, of multiple myeloma at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Santoro taught in the Cherry Hill school system for more than 30 years at Joyce Kilmer Elementary and Carusi Middle Schools.
He made ancient history come alive for his students. For example, for a lesson on Greek culture, students were allowed to dress up as Greek gods and goddesses. The death of Julius Caesar was told through a newspaper produced by students.
"He made it especially interesting," said his partner, Will Sears Bricker. "The kids loved it."
Mr. Santoro spent his entire teaching career in Cherry Hill. He retired in 2007.
While undergoing treatment in the hospital, Mr. Santoro remained upbeat and would often walk the hallway telling jokes to the nurses and patients, Bricker said.
"Even while literally dying of cancer, he was telling jokes to people and trying to make them feel better," he said. "He was pretty incredible."
Mr. Santoro was active in the West Mount Airy Neighborhood Association and organized a cocktail party as part of its annual Eat Your Heart Out fund-raiser.
He also was a volunteer at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where he taught teachers how to incorporate art into any curriculum.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Mr. Santoro graduated from South Philadelphia High School. He earned a bachelor's degree and a master's in education from Temple University.
In addition to his partner of 18 years, he is survived by two sisters, Rose Saylor and Maria Imbesi; three nieces; and two nephews.
A celebration of life will be held Saturday from 9 until 11 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, Route 130, Hamilton, N.J. A memorial tribute will follow.
Donations in his memory may be made to the International Myeloma Foundation, 12650 Riverside Dr., Suite 206, North Hollywood, Calif. 91607, or the American Cancer Society, Box 22718, Oklahoma City, Okla. 73123.