On Saturday, November 12, 2022, with his wife of 63 years at his side, Aldo Piero Santaga passed away. Aldo was born on December 22, 1934, in Tripoli, Libya to the late Aleandro and Angelina (Pasqualato) Santaga. He married the former Janet Drankoff on June 13, 1959, at Sacred Heart in Milwaukee.
He is survived by his wife, Janet A. Santaga (nee Drankoff), three sons, Jeffrey Santaga and his wife, Marcia, Greg Santaga and his wife, Ann, and Scott Santaga and his wife, Mary; nine grandchildren; sixteen great grandchildren; sister-in-law, Faye Drankoff; his nephew, Jack Drankoff and his nieces, Jenni Fuerer (nee Drankoff) and Angela Cervantes (nee Santaga); and a very large extended family living in his home country, Italy. He was preceded in death by his mother, father, eleven brothers and sisters, his mother and father-in-law, and brother-in-law, Jack Drankoff.
Of Italian descent, Aldo came to the United States at the age of 22 and soon thereafter became a proud United States citizen. Among his many accomplishments, he was an ambassador of the game of soccer, and an inspiration and role model to the many soccer players and coaches that played, worked, or spent time with him. As a former professional soccer player and Libya National Team player, he unselfishly shared his passion of the game of soccer first in Milwaukee, where he played for the Croatian Eagles Club and met his wife, Janet, and then to his home of Green Bay, most notably as the UW-Green Bay’s men’s soccer team, and later women’s head coach. He was instrumental in starting the soccer program at St. Norbert College, Premontre High School (now Notre Dame Academy) and the youth, Green Bay Kickers Club soccer program. Certainly, anyone who played for, with, or against him, either as a player or coach, would have known Aldo was a friend for life. He took great pride in his role as a mentor, father-figure, and leader of young people.
Aldo was a devoted husband. He was magically connected with children, and they loved him. Being a first-generation immigrant, he was especially proud of his sons, his grandchildren, and great grandchildren – his entire family. He was grateful for the opportunities the United States presented and he gave back – his house was always open for a meal or place to stay.
There was no larger presence in a room. He connected with people, captured their hearts with his honesty and sense of humor – he could really tell a joke! He was the kind of person you would want to hang out with. So many people felt so close to him – he was truly a special person, with depth, empathy, and integrity. If you knew Aldo, you had a friend for life who would always be there if you needed anything.
During his tenure at UWGB, he led the men’s team to its first Division I playoff appearance and had a number of nationally ranked teams. Aldo was inducted into the Wisconsin Soccer Association Hall of Fame, Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Hall of Fame, UWGB Sports program Hall of Fame, and the Croatian Eagles Soccer Club of Milwaukee Hall of Fame. The men and women soccer teams of UW-Green Bay now play their games at the Aldo P. Santaga Soccer Stadium located at the University.
Per Aldo’s request, there was a private Memorial Mass held at Resurrection Catholic Church on Thursday, November 17, 2022, with Rev. Tom Reynebeau officiating. Entombment was at the Allouez Chapel Mausoleum. Online condolences may be sent to Aldo’s family at www.prokowall.com. In lieu of flowers, please send a donation to the Aldo Santaga Memorial Fund care of Proko-Wall Funeral Home, 1630 E. Mason St., Green Bay, WI 54302.