Robert John DeSanto
Burial services for Dr. Robert John DeSanto APR, Fellow PRSA, 89, will be held on Tuesday, June 6, at 2 p.m., at Sunrise Cemetery, 4798 Miller Trunk Highway, Hermantown, MN. A reception will follow the graveside services at Grace Lutheran Church, 5454 Miller Trunk Highway, Hermantown, MN.
Dr. John was born in Duluth, Minnesota, on March 8, 1933, and died Sunday, February 12, 2023, at the St. Cloud Veterans Administration Hospital. He was a veteran who served in the Army from 1953 to 1955. Upon his discharge from the service, he earned his bachelor and master’s degrees from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and his Ed.D from the University of Northern Colorado.
DeSanto spent 21 years at the Department of Mass Communications at St. Cloud State University, including chairing the department, establishing and leading the university’s PRSSA chapter, and establishing a graduate program. He was a Fulbright professor to Nigeria, and hosted many international students and faculty at St. Cloud. After his retirement from St. Cloud State, he continued to teach at Oklahoma State University, the University of Central Oklahoma, and the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.
Besides being a devoted family man and dedicated teacher, DeSanto enjoyed coaching youth hockey, including serving as the president of the St. Cloud youth hockey association, and was a leader in elevating the sport to D1 status in St. Cloud. He was also an avid collector of Laurel and Hardy memorabilia and authored three books about the silent film era.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Carolyn (Nyberg) DeSanto, in 1990. He is survived by his wife, Barbara (Huls), and his children Tony (Amy), Pine River, MN, and Belinda (Binny) Levandowski, Sartell, MN; step-son Christopher (Jan) Zwilling, Scranton, KS; step-daughter Alicia Starnes, Indianapolis, IN; grandchildren Zoe DeSanto, Grand Junction CO; Miles and Nigel DeSanto, Pine River, MN; Natalie (Shane) Walters, St. Cloud, MN; Brianna (Daniel) Harding, Ankeny, IA; Tim Levandowski, Hammond, LA; and Aurora and Leo Zwilling, Scranton, KS.