MInita Santizo, age 68, passed away peacefully Saturday, February 7, 2015 at her home in San Antonio, TX surrounded by her children after a courageous battle with colon cancer. She is survived by her children, Lola Santizo Kern (Thomas), Silvia Gonzalez (Jaime), Mario Santizo (Isabelle), and Rodrigo Santizo (Alaina) and her beloved grandchildren, Maya Kern, Jaime & Gabriel Gonzalez, Leah and Matteo Santizo, and Noah and William Santizo. She is preceded in death by her husband, Mario Jose’ Santizo, her mother Alma Matilde Huemoeller, and her father, Carlos E. Ballesteros.
Minita was born in Parral, Chihuahua, Mexico on June 20th, 1946. She was raised there by her mother and grandmother until the age of 12, when her mother died suddenly and her grandmother became her guardian at which time she was sent to boarding school at the Sacred Heart Academy. At the age of 15, she came to the United States to live with her uncle, Federico Huemoeller and his family in St. Louis to benefit from an American education. While working as a secretary at St. Louis University, Minita met and married her husband Mario Santizo on December 7, 1968, who was a masters candidate also at St. Louis University. After their daughter Lola was born, they moved to Iowa City, IA when Mario became a Professor of Spanish for the University of Iowa.
During their 29 years in Iowa City, her children Silvia, Mario and Rodrigo were born and while she raised her family, she finished her bachelor degree at the University of Iowa and also earned two masters degrees in education one of which was in International and Comparative Education. A highlight of her career was her work as the Director for the University of Iowa International Writing Program. Her work with the IWP brought out the best in her “mover and shaker” personality where she arranged tours, lectures, performance attendances, visits to elementary schools, hosted more than a few wild parties in her home and even old fashioned salons where poetry, music and political discussions with dissident writers from all over the world were enjoyed by her family. Throughout their years in Iowa City, Minita and her family also hosted at least 46 family members and foreign exchange students from but not limited to Mexico, Guatemala, Spain, France, China, Taiwan and Brazil.
Her career blossomed with her position at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX as Director for Studies Abroad. She served in that position for for 15 years during which she tirelessly helped countless students realize their educational goals by assisting them with choosing studies abroad opportunities, getting passports and arranging for visas, taking care of emergencies abroad, becoming long-time friends with many of them. During her tenure at St. Mary’s she sought and developed new study abroad opportunities for faculty and students stun in existence today. She was a member of NAFSA for more than 20 years and saved on several NAFSA committees at the National, Regional and local levels, including the Public Policy and Advocacy Committee. She organized workshops, State meetings, while also participating in numerous sessions and panel presentations. As a member of the Forum on Education Abroad, Minita was an active participant in the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad development. In addition, she served as a Fulbright Grant and Boren Scholarship representative as well as a reviewer for these scholarships. She is co-founder of the Texas International Monthly(TIM), a study abroad organization comprised of local and regional universities that share information and discuss current issues in study abroad. Most recently, before her retirement she was appointed as Associate Director of the Association of Marianist Universities(Chaminade-Honolulu, the University of Dayton – Ohio, and St, Mary’s University. Some of her awards include The Silver InsigniaAward for her support and dedication to the Franklin Institute; Institute of International Education Award for her decade of work with the Gilman International Scholarship Program; The Alice Wright Franzke Feminist Award for the Promotion of Peace from St. Mary’s University; Leader for the Ecumenical Service Against Capital Punishment, President’s Peace Commission also from St. Mary’s University and The Award for Appreciation for Service from St. Mary’s University.
Minita loved her family and especially her dear grandchildren beyond measure. She thrived on meeting new people and making new connections many of which she kept for her lifetime. She has many wonderful close friends and neighbors in San Antonio that she met through her career at St. Mary’s who have become family by heart and will continue to be in her childrens’ lives. Minita attended St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church faithfully and was involved with many activities through the parish such as Mobile Loaves and Fishes(food, clothing, and other necessities delivered to the homeless and poor), minister, reader, greeter, A.C.T.S. Retreat team, Women’s Parish Council, and also with Habitat for Humanity. She was a lover of all kinds of music, movies, and travel and enjoyed constantly learning. Minita became a champion of anyone who asked for her help especially those whom she felt were marginalized. She was never afraid to speak up or say what was on her mind. Minita often said out loud what others were thinking but did not have the courage to say. Her firecracker personality and spirit will be greatly missed by all who were lucky to know her. And her heart and soul were always guided by love.
Friends are invited for a visitation on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 12:00-2:00pm, Porter Loring Funeral Home, 1101 McCullough, San Antonio, TX. A second visitation will follow at 4:30-6:30 pm at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 4201 De Zavala Rd, San Antonio, TX after which a Vigil will start at 6:30 also at St. Francis.
The Funeral Mass will take place on Thursday, February 12 at 10:00am at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church with a luncheon immediately following in the fellowship hall.
In lieu of flowers, a monetary gift may be made to the Marianists in support of their work in India.