Bob Santee, former Tigard Water District administrator, dies
In Bob Santee's long life, he wore many hats.
He served in three wars, played on a New York Yankees farm team, gave a kidney to his daughter at age 65 and had a successful career as a Tigard Water District administrator and engineer that spanned two decades.
A Summerfield resident for more than 30 years, Santee passed away Saturday, Aug. 10, in Keiser. He was 95.
Throughout his life, the former U.S. Marine would take charge of projects and get things done, according to his daughter, Diane Quinn, of Seattle.
While not what you'd call a "typical leatherneck Marine," he was a force to be reckoned with.
"Dad was a Marine Corp colonel, an engineer, a personality you didn't say no to him," said Quinn, pointing out he had other noted attributes as well. "He was very honest. Fair."
After graduating from Jefferson High School in 1942, he signed up for the Marines who allowed him a year off to attend the University of Oregon where he would play baseball, according to a 2017 article in the King City Regal Courier, a Pamplin Media Group newspaper.
While in the Marines, the military even sent him to the University of Southern California to hone his baseball skills. (He would return there later to get a degree in engineering.) Soon he would go on to officers' training, promoted to second lieutenant in July 1945.
"They pinned our gold bars on and we thought we owned the world, but what was staring at us was the invasion of Japan in August 1945 when the bombs were dropped, we were being assigned to ships," Santee recalled for the Regal Courier. "Japan was not going to give up, and it was rumored that the government had 100,000 body bags ready."
Two atom bombs would end Japan's involvement and Santee said he realized how lucky he was to have survived his enlistment.
He returned back home and baseball, becoming part of the U or O's 1946 championship team.
Later, he would sign a contract with the New York Yankees, sent to a farm team in Wisconsin, playing in the Wisconsin state League, and later, the California State League.
Santee would go on and fight in the Korean War serving in the artillery division. Soon he would marry his wife, Mary Ann.
Later, when stationed at Pearl Harbor, Santee would met Boston Red Sox left-fielder Ted Williams, Santee recalled in the 2017 interview. The two talked about baseball with Santee confiding in one of the greatest hitters of all time that he was in a bit of a slump.
"'How bad?'" asked Williams. "I told him I was zero for 21 (in hits), and I said, 'Ted, what would you do?' He said, 'Let me think. I'd quit.' I didn't quit and ended up hitting over 300."
His career military service would end following a one-year tour in Vietnam.
"He was in Saigon when (the TET Offensive) happened," said Quinn, referring to the event that proved a turning point in that war.
Santee would go on and work for the Tigard Water District, helping build the Bull Mountain reservoir, according to his daughter Diane Quinn. He would go on to build the Tigard Water District building that still stands at Hall Boulevard and Burnham Street, helping to design it all the way down to choosing the color of brick, according to Quinn.
In 1989, his oldest daughter, who had been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, needed a kidney. Santee offered one of his but doctors told him he was too old, according to Quinn. Undeterred, Santee went on an intensive one-year exercise program, returned to the doctors and told them, "test me like I'm (age) 50," she said.
They did and he passed the requirements, donating a kidney that would serve his daughter for the next 16 years of her life.
Santee's wife Mary Ann died of a brain tumor in 2009.
Early settlers of Summerfield, -- they would move to Century Oak Drive in the early 1970s, the community's first street -- Santee would later move to Summerfield Estates near the end of his life.
Joanne Schenk, a former daughter-in-law praised her former father-in-law, saying he was an incredible person and great guy, recalling how he helped his brother when he was going through hospice.
"He was just a very humble, very kind, warm-hearted, and he'd do anything for anybody; a wonderful role model for grandkids and great-grandkids."
Archival information for this article came from the King City Regal Courier.
Graveside services are set for 9 a.m., Friday, Aug. 23, at Willamette National Cemetery. A reception will follow, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Summerfield clubhouse, 10650 S.W. Summerfield Drive. Young's Funeral Home in Tigard is in charge of funeral arrangements.
Quality local journalism takes time and money, which comes, in part, from paying readers. If you enjoy articles like this one, please consider supporting us.
(It costs just a few cents a day.)