Lawrence W. DeSanto, MD


Lawrence William DeSanto, M.D.

Passed on May 1, 2020

It is with great sadness that I inform the ALA Fellowship that, one of our esteemed Fellows, Lawrence W. DeSanto, MD, passed away on May 1, 2020 at the age of 85 years, following a recent decline in health, in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Dr. DeSanto was inducted as an Active Fellow in 1984, the  2011 recipient of the ALA Award, and elevated to Emeritus status in 2001.

Born on January 6,1934 in West Duluth, MN, Dr. DeSanto completed premedical course work at the University of MN – Duluth. In 1960, he received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School.  This was followed by an internship year before he was drafted in the Air Force Medical Corp with duty stations at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico and overseas service in multiple countries.  Upon his discharge, Dr. DeSanto returned to complete his residency in Otolaryngology at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, and continued his training in head and neck surgery at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Between 1977 – 994, he continued his military service in the Air Force Reserves where he attained the rank  of Colonel MC.

Dedication to his career in the practice and teaching of head and neck surgery at the Mayo Clinic, generations of surgeons at Mayo and around the world were trained by him. A pioneer in establishing the subspecialty of head and neck surgery, Dr. DeSanto twice received the Teacher of the Year Award by the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine.  Among his clinical interests and research were head and neck oncology, ophthalmopathy of Graves Disease, vocal rehabilitation, and ethics and quality of life. In 1987, Dr. DeSanto relocated from Rochester to Scottsdale, AZ as one of the original physicians to establish Mayo Scottsdale. He retired from the Mayo Clinic as a Professor of Otolaryngology in 1997. In retirement Larry volunteered at the St. Vincent de Paul Clinic in Phoenix.

When not caring for patients or teaching surgery, Dr. DeSanto enjoyed many hobbies and interests including piloting his plane, golfing, swimming, studying military history, tinkering at his cabin at the Mogollon Rim and traveling the world. He was a regular participant in every event with his children and grandchildren. Those who knew him well reminisced about his patience and gratitude while recovering from a brain injury in 1994. He will be remembered as the consummate teacher of how to be a better human.

To forever hold his remarkable life in memory are his wife, Loralee;  five children, Greg DeSanto, MD; Lisa DeSanto Wemple (Timothy);  Sara DeSanto (James Lileks); and  Jill DeSanto (Jean Charles) Courbois;  his former wife and mother of his children, Marilyn; nine grandchildren; and great-grandchildren. A celebration of Dr. DeSanto’s life will be held after the current restrictions on public gatherings have been relaxed.

Memorial gifts in Dr. DeSanto’s name to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Medical Clinic at PO Box 13600, Phoenix, AZ 85002 are welcomed.