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Santon Electric Expresses Gratitude with Memorial for Military and First Responders

Santon Electric Co. Inc. near Youngstown, Ohio, is the home of a memorial honoring first responders and veterans. All photos courtesy of Santon Electric.
Published On
Aug 31, 2022

Santon Electric Co. Inc. is situated on a main thoroughfare near three Youngstown, Ohio, area hospitals, where it’s common for ambulances, fire engines and police cars to speed by with sirens blaring. When the pandemic hit, the sounds took on new meaning for Dan Santon, who
founded the family business in 1975.

Several of Santon’s grandchildren and others in his extended family—all professionals in the healthcare field—were risking their lives helping people, as were firefighters, police and other essential workers.

Journeyman Jay Mullen, 45, died suddenly. Two other journeymen, also among the company’s 80-strong workforce, had close relations pass away.

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Santon Electric staff members surround Dan Santon, center, who started his electrical contracting business serving the Youngstown, Ohio, area in 1975. Santon continues to add to a memorial on the property honoring first responders and veterans.

“During the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918, a local school was turned into a morgue, yet there was nothing to commemorate this,” Santon said, who grew up in the 1950s. “I didn’t want people to forget what was happening in 2020.”

Five years before, Santon had erected a flagpole to honor veterans, the police and firefighters who protected his company’s current location since 1997.

Starting in 2020, Santon added a walking path, stone benches, a fountain, landscaping, special lighting and even a sound system that plays patriotic music, along with an engraved monument honoring the heroism of healthcare workers, firefighters, police and military.

The shrine also incorporates granite etchings of historic photos from the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic and more recent images of Santon’s descendants working with patients.

In the memorial’s dedication ceremony on Dec. 31, 2020, the Santon family was joined by Jan Brown, national commander of the American Veterans, several first responders and a clergyman who blessed the monument.

“When COVID-19 hit, our lives changed drastically,” Santon told the crowd. “This memorial was created for all of you and what you do every day. This is a time in our history that should never be forgotten.”

Two years later, local families appreciate the memorial. A mother and daughter recently came to sit and reflect. “They both had tears in their eyes,” Santon said.

Community members are encouraged to add paving bricks bearing the names of loved ones to the memorial’s walkway. Five names affiliated with the Santon family and Santon Electric can already be found there.

The memorial also sports a stone wall with large brass letters, summarizing Santon Electric’s message for the community: “Gratitude.”

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All in the family business. Dan Santon, center, stands with his sons, Bud (left) and Joe (right) in front of the office of Santon Electric, which serves the Youngstown, Ohio area.

Santon has expressed gratitude in other ways through an affiliation with NECA-IBEW electricians. The partnership of the Mahoning Valley, Ohio, NECA chapter, IBEW Local 64 in Youngstown and Local 573 in Warren established a fund to assist veterans enrolled at Youngstown State University.

This isn’t the first time NECA-IBEW electricians have given back to the community. In 2021, they provided the City of Youngstown with $30,000 for an electrical installation involving the “Handshake of the Century” statue unveiled in 2021. Santon Electric provided the labor. NECA’s National Labor Management Cooperation Committee provided an additional $20,000 grant for the lighting fixtures.

The statue portrays Jackie Robinson, the first Black man to play in Major League Baseball, shaking hands with George Shuba, a white teammate from the Youngstown area. In an era preceding the Civil Rights movement, Shuba took Robinson’s hand—when other Montreal Royals teammates refused—for hitting a home run with two players at bat.

“I’ve always tried to express gratitude and do the right thing,” Santon said.

About the Author
Susan DeGrane

Susan DeGrane

Susan DeGrane is a Chicago-based freelance writer. She has covered electrical contracting, renewable energy, senior living and other industries with articles published in the Chicago Tribune, New York Times and trade publications. Reach her at sdegra...

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