In loving memory

Tom Sangillo

December 18, 1944 - February 17, 2017

Donor, Minnesota

Tom was born and raised in Union City, New Jersey. He was the baby, born 13 years after his twin brothers Dominic and Christopher. They were a typical Italian, immigrant family in many ways. His parents worked hard to provide for him and his brothers.

Tom touched the lives of many, through quiet kindness and generosity. He continued his generosity through his gift of eye donation.

He drove across country to Santa Barbara, California in the 60’s to attend the Brooks Institute and pursue his passion for photography. Returning to New Jersey, he started his own graphics business, providing photo and graphic design for some of the top companies based in NJ. That is where he met my mother.

When my mother, Karen, died suddenly in 2014, Tom looked out for me and my family. We all grieved and cared for each other. He was bold and brave and lived in their dream house on a small lake in Columbia City, Indiana. When his ALS prevented him from living alone, he moved to Minnesota so we could be together and he could get the care he needed.

He was a kind and caring person who mostly flew under people’s radar. When we talked about end-of-life plans, he readily spoke up to say he wanted to be a donor in whatever way he could. He always looked at his situation from the perspective of what he could share and offer others to help them. He invented leg supports for his power chair so his knees didn’t flop out and bang on the doorways. He donated the chair, with the braces, to the ALS Association in the hope that someone else would find his invention useful.

I am so very proud of him. When the caregivers and hospice team asked what he needed, he expressed his gratitude at their compassion for him. He gave to others in the 20+ months he lived here in Minnesota – speaking up for staff at The Gardens to recognize their dedication to caregiving; sincerely thanking each person who came to his room to care for and serve him; and welcoming me and my family with open arms and a smile each time we came to see him.

He was generous in life and in death and I know he would be pleased that he was able to be an eye donor.

With love, Kristin, Jim, Andrew, Simon and Maren