Larry Santoro had a gift for math


Mathematician Lawrence Santoro, a longtime Riverdale resident, died on March 16. He was 71.

Mr. Santoro was born and raised, lived, loved, learned, taught and died as a proud New Yorker and Bronx resident. He was born in the Mosholu Parkway neighborhood on Aug. 15, 1944 as the only son of the late Enrico Santoro and Tillie Rieger. He grew up playing stickball in the streets, riding his bike down “Snake Hill” and around the Jerome Park Reservoir. He attended P.S. 94, Junior High School 80, and the Bronx High School of Science (class of ‘62).  He attended City College, then dubbed “the poor man’s Harvard” and later Hunter College, where he met Naomi Siebenberg, the love of his life. 

At Hunter, he wrote for the Meridian and was active in political and social life on campus. In the late 60s, Mr. Santoro and his roommates hosted a Freedom Seder at their apartment on Sedgwick Avenue attended by Dean Nygreen. Mr. Santoro loved music and long rides on his cherry red motorcycle, which carried him and Naomi to the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969.  Several years and a political revolution later, they married and moved to Riverdale, where they raised two daughters, Gabriella and Daniella. 

 A 40-year resident of Riverdale, Larry would often remark that “even if money was no object” he would never trade in his apartment on 239th street. He took great joy in the community of the building and in barbecuing on his terrace overlooking the Palisades.  Mr. Santoro was as a member of the Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale and a regular swimmer at the Whitehall Club, a place he said added years to his life and helped him regain health in his 60s. A fan of the local shops, he loved the chocolate babka from Mothers Bakery, Golden Gate and raved about new additions like Salvatore’s and Tin Marin. 

Early in his life, Mr. Santoro was recognized for his unique gift for mathematics. As his friends recall, the geometry teacher at Bronx Science would regularly cede her chalk to him and sit back as he taught class, instead. Mr. Santoro studied at the CUNY Graduate Center with Dr. Raymond Smullyan and later Dr. Michael Marcus. He reveled in “Mathland,” but his true passion was to share this knowledge. 

He was a devoted professor of actuarial science, mathematics and statistics at the College of Insurance, the City University of New York and the State University of New York. One of Mr. Santoro’s students recently lauded him as having “a beautiful mind” and “being a professor of our time.” Another claimed “Professor Santoro could teach math to a horse!” He vowed to teach until the day he died and, true to his word, despite increasing mobility challenges, he was teaching three classes between Lehman and FIT up until the day he went into the hospital.   

Mr. Santoro was laid to rest on March 18 at Woodlawn Cemetery, with a musical farewell among family and lifelong friends. He is now forever at home in the borough that built him.