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Mario M. Santoro, co-founder of family-owned sign company April 15, 1927 -- Oct. 17, 2008

Mario M. Santoro of Cheektowaga, co-founder of a sign company, died Friday in Maplewood Health Care Facility, Buffalo. He was 81.

Born in Buffalo, Mr. Santoro served as a corporal in the Army during the Korean War.

In 1953, he and his brother Rocco founded Santoro Signs in a rented storefront on East Delavan Avenue, where the business evolved from paper, cardboard and silk-screened signs to custom fabricated signs and corporate identity items.

Mr. Santoro retired in 1992 from the business, which has continued to develop as a family operation on Genesee Street in Cheektowaga.

Among the first generation of his family to be born in this country, Mr. Santoro was a centurion for the Consolata Missionaries, founded in Italy, to which he contributed 30 years of support and participation. He also was an accomplished oil painter who donated his artwork to local churches.

His wife, Freda Dyl Santoro, died in 1998.

Survivors include a son, Mark A.; another brother, Anthony; and a sister, Theresa.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Wednesday in St. Aloysius Gonzaga Catholic Church, 157 Cleveland Drive, Cheektowaga, after prayers at 9:15 in Amigone Funeral Home, 569 Cleveland Drive, Cheektowaga.


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