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Article updated: 2/19/2013 5:27 AM

Geneva alderman Ralph Dantino dies of cancer

By Susan Sarkauskas

Geneva 5th Ward Alderman Ralph Dantino is being recalled for his dedication to the community, even while fighting the cancer that claimed his life.

Dantino, 56, died Monday after several years battling cancer.

"His contributions were many and Geneva's reputation as a great place to live is due in no small part to his efforts," Mayor Kevin Burns said.

Dantino had cancer of the appendix that spread to the lining of his abdomen.

He had attended city council meetings while wearing a chemotherapy pump, and when he was too ill to attend in person, he participated by telephone.

In 2009 he defeated three other people to win the city council seat, replacing Paul DesCoteaux, who had stepped down. It was his second attempt for the seat; he was defeated in 2005.

Alderman Dean Kilburg, a friend, had served with Dantino on the Geneva school board. He said Dantino, who moved to Geneva in the mid-1980s, had served as co-chairman with his wife, Nancy, of the St. Peter Barn Sale, and as president of the Tri-Cities Soccer Association.

"I think his passion for family and his upbringing" inspired Dantino's drive to serve the community, Kilburg said. "It carried over into Ralph's values."

" ... He was concerned about those who maybe he felt didn't have a voice."

Dantino served on the Geneva school board from 1996 to 2001. He also served on the city's plan commission.

In February 2011, Dantino gamely fulfilled his commitment to performing a swing dance with his wife, Nancy, at the annual "Dancing With The Geneva Stars" fundraising contest for the Geneva Cultural Arts Commission, even though he was receiving chemotherapy treatments and had been hospitalized until that afternoon for abdominal pains. The event's co-chairman, Carolyn Hill, recalls Dantino showing up at the hall at 5 p.m. and announcing, "I'm dancing." And he showed no sign of pain or illness in his performance, she said.

"He's always been kind of an inspiration," Hill said. When recruiting people to dance, she tells them, "If Ralph Dantino can do it, you can, too."

And in May 2012, he spoke at the ceremony dedicating the LivingWell Cancer Resource Center in Geneva, to which he had turned for support when he was diagnosed with cancer.

Dantino was a partner in a company that represented manufacturers in the ventilation and air-conditioning industry.

He is survived by his wife; daughters Sara and Lindsey; and sons Tom, Russell and Drew.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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