Honoring the Dedication of Anthony F. Sansone, Sr.
by Betsy Haberl
Anthony F. Sansone, Sr. dedicated more than 25 years of service to the URF as President of the Board of Directors. He spoke to QUEST about his time with the URF and his long-standing friendship with Dr. Catalona.
Twenty-eight years ago, Anthony F. Sansone, Sr. was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He was 65 years
old. Rather than feeling trepidation, he approached his next steps with the philosophy he applies to all aspects of his life: work hard, focus, and don’t stop until you get the answer.
He began researching top doctors in the prostate cancer field, as he was willing to go anywhere in the world for the best treatment. However, he discovered Dr. William J. Catalona, a leader in clinical practice and prostate cancer research, was located at the time in St. Louis, Missouri, where Mr. Sansone lived.
At his first appointment, Mr. Sansone was impressed by Dr. Catalona’s expertise and guidance, who said with confidence that Mr. Sansone needed to undergo treatment immediately. Shortly afterwards, Dr. Catalona performed Mr. Sansone’s nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy. Thankfully, Mr. Sansone had excellent results after the surgery.
This experience led to a relationship of mutual respect and admiration that has lasted more than 28 years. “He was ideal, a picture of a beautiful individual, with his care, attention, and his bedside manner,” Mr. Sansone said of Dr. Catalona.
A leader for the URF
Not long after Mr. Sansone’s surgery, Dr. Catalona approached him about getting involved with the URF. Mr. Sansone enthusiastically agreed to help and was elected President of the Board. This past December, at age 93, Mr. Sansone stepped down from his leadership position with the URF, although he remains very appreciative of Dr. Catalona and his work.
The URF is extremely grateful for Mr. Sansone’s leadership and dedication. He was integral in shaping the vision of the URF and leaves a legacy in advancing prostate cancer awareness, as well as supporting Dr. Catalona’s research program.
Mr. Sansone is also responsible for founding the QUEST newsletter, which has a broad reach and focuses on increasing awareness of prostate cancer detection and treatment, as well as research advancements. Mr. Sansone’s inspiration for the publication’s title came from the idea that when facing something big, such as cancer, you need to go on a quest to get the information— and results—that are best for you.
For many years, Mr. Sansone hosted an annual fundraiser for the URF at his second home at the Old Palm Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The funds raised at these events have been critical for advancing Dr. Catalona’s research program.
Mr. Sansone was especially interested in Dr. Catalona’s research on familial risk factors for prostate cancer, noting that he asked his sons to join Dr. Catalona’s research project tracing familial links for the disease. He also admires Dr. Catalona’s research involvement with the African-American community and other communities who are most susceptible to prostate cancer.
A fruitful career, fulfilling family life
Mr. Sansone was “born and bred” in St. Louis. His father and grandfather had built a produce business in St. Louis after immigrating from Italy, but when he came of age Mr. Sansone wanted to forge his own path. He took night courses at Washington University to earn a degree in real estate.
In 1957, Mr. Sansone founded the Sansone Group, a commercial real estate group in St. Louis. The business started as a brokerage firm with just two people. Through Mr. Sansone’s grassroots efforts, the business has grown into a nationally- recognized real estate development and management firm with more than 300 employees that operates in 13 states. Mr. Sansone is currently Chairman, and four of his sons are Principals. In 2014, he received the most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs, the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award for his “entrepreneurial achievements, leadership and vision.”
Growing a business was not easy, but Mr. Sansone is not afraid of challenges, and
he gives credit where its due. “The keys to success in business are hard work, faith, creativity, professionalism, and teamwork,” said Mr. Sansone, “and I wouldn’t have accomplished all this in life without the support of my wife, Mary Anne.”
Mr. and Mrs. Sansone have been married for 66 years. While Mrs. Sansone helped Mr. Sansone launch and establish his business, he also found ways to help her achieve her goals as well. Mr. Sansone supported her when she went to college at age 50 and earned a degree in Religious Studies with a minor in Psychology, graduating cum laude from Maryville University.
They find joy in their large family: 8 children, 42 grandchildren, and 22 great- grandchildren (with more on the way). They encourage their family members to be the best they can be, and they’ve tried to lead by example. “We’re firm believers in working hard,” Mr. Sansone said.
They also instilled strong values in their children, who in turn have raised their own families with the same beliefs. Although Mr. Sansone was busy running his business, the family made time for meals together each day, as well as practicing daily prayer. Their Christian faith remains an important part of their life.
The extended family now includes 90 people, but they still find ways to continue family traditions, such as gathering during the holidays. One favorite family tradition is an end-of-summer celebration, during which the Sansones host the entire family for dinner before the grandchildren and great- grandchildren return to school. Everyone looks forward to this time to connect. Mrs. Sansone also writes individualized poems for each family member on their birthday, which she shares with everyone over email.
Their son, James (Jim) G. Sansone, an attorney, also served on the URF Board of Directors for the duration of Mr. Sansone’s tenure as
president. “My dad asked me to serve,” Jim said. “It was an honor for me.” The URF is also grateful for Jim’s years of service on the Board.
For now, Mr. and Mrs. Sansone are enjoying the sunshine and warmth at their Florida home and look forward to their continued friendship with Dr. Catalona.
A Note of Gratitude
Anthony F. Sansone, Sr. has a sparkling personality that combines friendliness, compassion, and a great sense humor with intelligence, a keen business acumen, and true wisdom about life. He is fun to be around, knows and acknowledges everybody in his sphere and, consequently, is widely admired, very popular, and highly sought after in society. A respected, thoughtful leader in business negotiations, he has built an extremely successful business from the ground up by dint of hard work, integrity, native talent and a generous sense of fairness. No tribute to him could be complete without mentioning that he is a gifted natural athlete who has been shooting his age in golf seemingly forever.
He and his lovely wife, Mary Anne, are utterly devoted to their strong faith and beautiful family. Words cannot adequately do justice to what the Sansone family has meant to the URF, and I am so grateful for all they have done to advance the URF’s missions of patient education and research.
-Dr. William J. Catalona