Cover photo for Michael Melton Santoro's Obituary
Michael Melton Santoro Profile Photo
1979 Michael 2024

Michael Melton Santoro

March 29, 1979 — May 6, 2024

Michael Melton Santoro, age 45, of Tempe, Arizona, passed away unexpectedly on May 6, 2024.  

Michael was born on March 29, 1979, in Mesa, Arizona, to Richard Santoro and Shari Melton. He spent his early years in Tempe, where he began to develop his deep appreciation for community and the world around him. He moved at the age of 8 to Bloomington, Indiana and then on to Columbia, Missouri where he graduated from Hickman High School in 1997.

Michael returned to Arizona, where he pursued higher education at Arizona State University. Despite being identified as dyslexic, Michael was able to persevere and overcome all challenges, a true testament to his tenacity and intelligence. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 2002, followed by a Master of Arts in Geographical Sciences in 2009.  Driven by his passion for understanding the complexities of climate, Michael continued his academic journey and received his Ph.D. in Geographical Sciences with an emphasis on Climatology in 2017, all from Arizona State University.

Michael found his faith while attending Arizona State University and became a steadfast participant in the Catholic Church.  He strove to live his life according to those beliefs, embodying the values of compassion, generosity, and love.

The Newman Center offered Michael a place where he began his life of service with mission trips to Mexicali and two journeys to El Salvador.  Michael also dedicated a year of his life living at Andre House of Hospitality in Phoenix where he served the unhoused population of Arizona.  He later worked at Maggie’s Place, an organization that provides housing and support for vulnerable pregnant and newly parenting women. His life of service was prevalent in his home as well, fostering children for years, providing love and stability to those in need.

He met the love of his life and future wife, Annie, while serving at Andre House. Michael and Annie were married on January 11, 2014, recently celebrating 10 wonderful years of marriage. Their marriage was filled with adventures, faith, hospitality and a deep love for each other.

Michael served as faculty at Chandler-Gilbert Community College for 19 years; 12 years as adjunct Geography faculty and 7 years as residential Geology faculty. He was particularly skilled in developing classroom rapport, fostering intrigue and scientific curiosity, and creating space to share different ideas and engage in respectful dialogue. Additionally, he found joy in serving his educational community on the Faculty Senate and various other task-force committees. He thoroughly enjoyed teaching and mentoring students, leaving a lasting impact on all those he encountered.

Michael leaves behind his beloved wife Annie and their four children, Lucia (8), Hannah (6), Andre (4), and Gianna (1). He is also survived by his mother Shari (Jerry), stepfather Granger (Marjorie), sisters Karen (Brent), Sue, Betsy (Earl), and Nancy (Greg), his bonus brother Jason (Lauren), father-in-law Bob (Merrily), sister-in-law Katie (Chris), aunt Bryn (Kennen) and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and tremendously cherished friendships.

In addition to his immediate family, Michael was honored to serve as Godfather to 8 children, providing love, guidance, and support to each of them.

He was preceded in death by his father, Richard Santoro, and his brother Richie.

Michael leaves behind a legacy of scholarship, friendship, hospitality and love.  He will be deeply missed by his family, friends, colleagues, and all who had the privilege of knowing him. He was a dedicated and devoted father to his children, a beloved husband, a treasured son, a cherished brother, a dedicated uncle, and a compassionate friend. He opened his arms to anyone that needed help, support, or guidance. Michael was also known for his humor and intelligence.  He particularly felt strongly about the importance of education, faith and generosity and passed down these traits and ideals to his young children.

Services will be held at All Saints Catholic Newman Center, 230 East University Dr. Tempe, Arizona 85281. Parking is available in the Fulton Center garage across College Ave from the church. Visitation, Rosary and remarks on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, from 5 to 7 p.m.  The Funeral Mass will be held on Thursday, May 16, 2024, at 10 a.m., with burial to follow at Queen of Heaven Cemetery. All are welcome to celebrate his wonderful life, honor the gift he is, pray for his family and welcome him forward into Eternal Life.

Further, to celebrate the extraordinary life of Mike, there will be an evening gathering at Four Peaks Brewing Company in Tempe, Arizona from 5 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, May 16, 2024.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Andre House of Hospitality in Phoenix, a place deeply important to Mike and his family.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Michael Melton Santoro, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Wednesday, May 15, 2024

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Mountain (no DST) time)

All Saints Catholic Newman Center

230 E University Dr, Tempe, AZ 85281

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Starts at 10:00 am (Mountain (no DST) time)

All Saints Catholic Newman Center

230 E University Dr, Tempe, AZ 85281

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Thursday, May 16, 2024

Starts at 12:30 pm (Mountain (no DST) time)

Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery & Funeral Home

1562 E Baseline Rd, Mesa, AZ 85204

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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