Vincent Santiago, 82, of North Fort Myers, passed away Sunday, April 20, 2014. Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, July 19, 1931, he was the oldest of three children born to Indalecio Santiago and Santos Chamorro Santiago.
Mr. Santiago moved to northern Ohio in 1954 with his father, where he settled in Akron and pursued his dreams of playing baseball, being a professional dancer and being involved in politics.
He retired in 1980 from Summit County, Ohio, government after 23 years. At the time of his retirement, he was a county maintenance supervisor over 21 buildings in the Akron, Ohio, area.
Mr. Santiago established a North Fort Myers home in 1998, and after several years of splitting time between Akron and North Fort Myers, he called Lee County home since 2005. He contracted Parkinson's Disease in 2000 but did not allow it to dim his passions for life, baseball, dancing, dominos and his 41-year companion Myra.
He played baseball for three years in the Caribbean League in Puerto Rico, celebrating a league championship in 1951. Upon landing in Ohio, he played in two highly competitive amateur leagues, Cleveland AA and Greater Akron AA, where he played until the mid-1970s, competing against players half his age. Slender, wiry and athletic, he was called "Electro-Man" by his teammates because he was so fast and energetic on the field. He exercised his passion for baseball by returning to the field in 1994, after a 20-year absence, playing age group ball in NE Ohio Roy Hobbs Baseball. He managed a team to a 30+ championship in 2003, and in 2007, at the age of 75, contributed to a Roy Hobbs World Series Championship with the Kent (Ohio) MudHens 60+ team.
Mr. Santiago expanded his professional dancing in 1974 with his partner Myra, whom he married in 1986. They danced professionally throughout the Midwest, focusing on Ohio. Their expertise was merengue, and they were invited to perform for conventions, conclaves and festivals sponsored by communities and universities. A highlight was being invited to perform at the 1982 inauguration of Ohio Gov. Richard Celeste.
Coupled with that, Mr. Santiago was heavily involved in Democratic and Hispanic politics in the U.S. He was named to numerous local, state and national Hispanic committees and commissions in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, all of which led to meetings with Midwest governors and four visits to the White House to meet sitting presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Ford and Carter.
Mr. Santiago was preceded in death by his mother, Santos Chamorro; father, Indalecio; and daughter, Donna.
He is survived by his loving wife of 28 years, Myra; two sisters, Alta Martinez (Akron) and Bonifacia Santiago Velez (Puerto Rico); eight children, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Arrangements are under the direction of Coral Ridge Funeral Home & Cemetery, Cape Coral, Florida. A memorial service will be held in Fort Myers during the 2014 Roy Hobbs World Series in November; details will be added later.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials in Mr. Santiago's name to either the National Parkinson Foundation (www.parkinson.org or 200 SE 1st St., Suite 800,Miami, FL 33131), or the Roy Hobbs Foundation (2048 Akron Peninsula Road, Akron OH, 44313).
Please visit www.coralridgefuneralhome.com to leave thoughts and memories for his family.