John Matthew Sant of Danville, IL passed away on Monday, July 20, 2020, at the age of 97. After several months of declining health, John died peacefully at the Danville VA Illiana Health Care System’s Freedom House. His passing was honored with a Last Salute by family and VA staff.
John was born in Pittsburgh, PA on February 8, 1923, to father Martin Francis Sant and mother Ida Louise Shourek. The oldest of three, John graduated from Westinghouse High School and then served in World War 2. He enlisted in the service May, 1942. He was a B-17 pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corp. He was assigned to the 15th Air Corp of the US Army in Foggia, Italy. He was assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing, 463rd Bomb Group, 774th Bomb Squad. During that time he flew 32 missions and was shot down twice. The last time was over Czechoslovakia in a mission to German oil fields at Blechhammer, Germany. He was captured by the Nazi’s and spent 10 months in a POW camp, Staglag Luft 1 near Barth, Germany. After the war he returned home and studied mechanical engineering at Carnegie Institute of Technology, now Carnegie-Mellon University and graduated in 1948. He was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity. He married Wanda Jean Schaeffer on May 21, 1949. She preceded him in death on July 8, 1998.
John was preceded in death by his parents and by his brother Martin Francis Sant, Jr., and sister Martha Anne Sant Martinez. He is survived by his children Mary Sant (Ken) Skinner, John Mathew (Maura) Sant, Jr, and Edward Schaeffer Sant; grandchildren Charles B. (Kristy) Cain, Aaron John (Brittany) Cain; and great-granddaughters Lauren Cain, Sarah Cain, and Lydia Cain.
John’s life work was in manufacturing of machinery. He began his career at Federal Machine and Welding in Warren, Ohio and stayed with the company in its many forms. He came to Danville, IL in 1976 to work with Berkley-Davis as Vice President of Engineering. He retired as General Manager of Berkley-Davis in Danville, IL in 1988. He was honored with the Resistance Welders of America Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.
John was an active citizen involved in many professional, charitable, and civic organizations. He was a member of First Presbyterian Church and served as Clerk of Session in both Warren, Ohio and in Danville, IL. He was ushering team captain into his early 90’s. He was president of the Danville Engineering Club and a Lifetime Member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). He was 70-year member of St. John’s Trinity Masonic Lodge, Pittsburgh, PA. He was a 75-year member of the Penn Hills, PA. American Legion Post 351. He was a 32-year member of the Danville Elks. He was also a long-time member of the Danville Country Club and a past member of the Danville Boat Club. He was president of CRIS Senior Services Board. He was president of the Piankashaw Boy Scout Council. He was presented the prestigious Silver Beaver Award in 1975. He was Commander of the Illiana Ex-POW Chapter and was a lifetime member of the Vermilion county War Museum. He volunteered in the AARP’s Tax Aid Program for 20 years. He was very active in Golden Kiwanis and served as past President and Treasurer. He received the Kiwanis Distinguished Service Award and the George F. Hixon Award in 2000. He attended Kiwanis meetings until early February of this year.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, July 26, 2020 at 2PM at Sunset Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Danville, Illinois, 3940 N Vermilion St. Danville, Illinois 61834. Rev. Ann Schwartz will officiate. Visitation will be held prior to the service from 1pm to 2pm at the funeral home.
People wishing to honor John’s lifelong commitment to family and community can make donations to the Danville Area Community College Nursing Program.
Please Join John’s family in sharing memories and photos on his tribute wall at www.sunsetfuneralhome.com
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