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Rina Santora

June 6, 1952 April 5, 2018
Rina  Santora
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Obituary for Rina Santora

Rina Santora, RN, age 65, passed away April 5, 2018, five years and two weeks after her initial diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, with her family at her bedside. She is survived by her husband, Larry Santora, MD, her three children and their spouses: Nikki Johnson (Wade), Josh Harvey (Leslie), David Harvey (Irene) and five grandchildren: Jayden, Ethan, Kaylin, Drew, Alexandria; her mother, Mary Jane Reta; her brothers, Roddy Reta, Randy Reta (Karen), and Rudy Reta. Three nieces: Mikyla, Gabby and Shaylin . Her father, Mike Reta, precedes her in death.
Rina’s first love was being a wife, mother and grandmother. Her second love was being a nurse. She grew up in the Orange and Tustin area. She received her nursing degree from Cypress College, and bachelor’s degree from Chapman University.
She had a significant impact on health care in Orange County and affected the lives of thousands of patients. Her early nursing career was at UCI Medical Center where she helped develop the trauma center concept and was one of the first paramedic radio nurses. She was the original “Radio Rina”, as her friends called her. She then spent the next fifteen years at St Joseph Hospital in various capacities. First as an emergency room nurse for a number of years. She then left the emergency department and helped develop the first “Heart Center”, a new outpatient-testing concept in 1990, and the Women’s Heart Center as well at St Joseph Hospital. Rina then transitioned to business development for several years at St Joseph Hospital. For five subsequent years she was a clinical nurse in the Sue and Bill Gross Women’s Wellness Center at Hoag Hospital. After that she started her own weight loss program for few years and also worked at Chapman University’s student health clinic. Rina then came back and worked as a nurse at the Dick Butkus Center for Cardiovascular Wellness at St Joseph Hospital, counseling patients on cardiac wellness and coronary CT scans. Through all these years she was heavily involved with philanthropy and fundraising with support groups, a few of them were: Los Amigos and Todos , and the Dick Butkus Foundation raising funds for military veterans to get free heart scans.
Her personal life revolved around family and friends. With her husband she developed cardiovascular and wellness concepts, participated in research, inventions and book writing and co-hosted their TV show, “Health Matters with Dr Larry Santora”. Earlier days involved tennis, skiing, and golf, which she played even during her last year of life.
When life was interrupted by pancreatic cancer on March 23, 2013 she had her first Whipple surgery at St Joseph Hospital, then a revision of the Whipple in 2015, and numerous other procedures in subsequent years. She had chemotherapy and radiation three separate occasions and lost her hair three times.
She refused to be a “cancer victim” and approached life as a woman living with cancer. She traveled extensively after her diagnosis throughout the world with her husband and family to Scotland, Ireland, France, Italy, Caribbean, Panama Canal, Mexico, Nova Scotia, Vancouver, Alaska, Lourdes, France, and other holy sites through out the world. In September 2017, just two weeks after having a large tumor removed from her liver, she went on a two-week trip to Italy, Sicily and Malta. Her patron saint was St Anthony of Padua whom she felt guided her through this unbelievable journey.
Eight weeks before her passing, she participated in a compassionate use clinical trial from Duke University for an amazing new immunotherapy that was administered at St Joseph Hospital. Throughout her ordeal she lived life with compassion, grace and dignity. She never once asked “why me?”, but always asked “what can I do to help others ?” She was forever a nurse and mother to her last breath.
Memorial services are open to all:
Tuesday, April 10, 2018: viewing and vigil at Holy Family Cathedral in Orange from 4:30pm-8: 30pm. At 6:00 pm a rosary then at 6:30 pm her family and others will speak and celebrate her life.
Thursday, April 12, 2018: mass/services at Holy Family Cathedral at 12:10 pm. The burial of her ashes will follow at the Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Orange. A reception will follow at Irvine Regional Park.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent to St. Joseph Hospital Foundation for the Rina Santora RN, Memorial Scholarship in Nursing. St Joseph Hospital Foundation: 1100 W. Stewart Drive, Orange, CA. 92868 or

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Previous Events





4:30 PM 4/10/2018 4:30:00 PM - 8:30 PM 4/10/2018 8:30:00 PM
Holy Family Cathedral

566 S. Glassell St.
Orange, CA 92866

Holy Family Cathedral
566 S. Glassell St. Orange 92866 CA
United States





12:10 PM 4/12/2018 12:10:00 PM
Holy Family Cathedral

566 S. Glassell St.
Orange, CA 92866

Vigil will be held at 7:00 p.m.

Holy Family Cathedral
566 S. Glassell St. Orange 92866 CA
United States

Cemetery Details


Holy Sepulcher Cemetery Final Resting Place

7845 E. Santiago Canyon Road
Orange, CA 92869

7845 E. Santiago Canyon Road Orange 92869 CA
United States

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