John Santopolo was the son of a former Hewlett-Woodmere School District superintendent who made his own impact on the community as one of the major supporters of the merger between the Hewlett Business Association and Woodmere Merchants Association to created the Hewlett-Woodmere Business Association in 2011.
The Woodmere group had floundered for a few years after its President, Seymour Glass became ill and the Hewlett organization also needed an infusion of new blood. Santopolo, who became head of the Woodmere association, and Joseph Gelb, president of the Hewlett association, pushed for the merger.
“He was fantastic to work with,” said Gelb, who remembered the Nov. 10, 2011 dinner at the Woodmere Club when the merger between the two business groups was officially announced. “I go way back with that family his mother taught me English at Lawrence High School.”
Santopolo was killed on Monday on his way to a Nassau County Dental Society meeting, when after trying cross Peninsula Boulevard at South Franklin Avenue in Hempstead, he was struck by a 2011 Honda Crossover that was headed east at 6:20 p.m. Santopolo was then hit again by another vehicle that did not stop, according to police.
He was pronounced dead at 7:10 p.m. The driver of the Honda submitted to a preliminary breath test. The results were negative for intoxication. The Honda was impounded for brake and safety tests. There is no description of the vehicle that left the scene, police said. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 1-80—244-8477. All calls are kept confidential.
A leader in his field
An endodontist for more than 30 years, with offices in Woodmere and Merrick, Santopolo was a Hewlett resident. He was the founder and president of Long Island Endodontics, a dental practice specializing in root canal treatment.
Considered a leader in his field, Santopolo also was one of the first to apply new technology such as the YAP laser, which helped remove broken pieces and reduced the amount of time a patient spent in the chair, and other state-of-the-art equipment. He also frequently lectured throughout the East Coast and published articles on a variety of topics related to his field such as stem cell technology, the single tooth anesthesia system and the YAP Laser. Santopolo served on the staff of Peninsula Hospital Center until the Far Rockaway facility closed in 2012.
His daughter, Jill, said he also applied a personal touch with his patients as he sang to them while performing work. Santopolo also loved cooking, Jill said, and his favorite time was Sunday night making tomato sauce with spaghetti and having the whole family together for dinner.
“He was an incredible kind, generous man and family meant so much to him,” Jill said. “We are so lucky to have him as long as we did.”
His father was Michael Santopolo who served as superintendent from 1955 to 1976. He was responsible for building Hewlett High School, Woodmere Middle School and Ogden Elementary School. He died in 2010.
Jaime Wysocki, the current president of the HWBA, said that everyone on the organization’s board is in shock. “He was a big part of the community,” said Wysocki, who owns Dance Express in Woodmere. “My students were his clients and vice versa. You can’t take any day for granted.”
In addition to Jill, Santopolo is survived by his wife, Beth; daughters Alison and her husband, Benjamin May; and Suzanne Santopolo; and a granddaughter Lilly May.