Dolores "Dee" Santha, age 95, of Dardenne Prairie, Missouri passed away on Saturday, November 14, 2020 in O'Fallon, Missouri. She was born in Detroit, Michigan on July 23, 1925 to Joseph and Hazel Topia (nee Westra).
Dolores attended college at Ohio State and Youngstown State Universities. Her career spanned both law enforcement (Youngstown Police force) and corporate (Youngstown Sheet & Tube). Upon retiring, Dee thrust herself fully into volunteer work with agencies and organizations benefitting her Native American heritage. Among her many contributions, she sat on the board of the National Indian Council on Aging, was the AARP spokesperson for Minority Initiatives, was a member of the Ohio Council of Native Americans, and was a frequent chaperone for the Miss Indian America Scholarship pageant.
Dolores was an advocate for higher education for all but especially within the Native American community, and she sponsored scholarships for Native peoples through Heritage College and Haskell University.
She continued to promote her Native culture through her storytelling events at Pow-wows, universities, and regional story-telling events. In addition to a feature recording on Story Corps, she had released several story-telling recordings and tapes: Legends from Our Past, Campfire Ghost Stories, and Creation Stories, with proceeds going to benefit Native scholarships.
Dolores is survived by her daughter, Patricia (Russell) Kirkland; her stepdaughter, Sandra (David) Brand; her grandchildren, Sean (Madeline) Kirkland, Jeremy (Elizabeth) Kirkland, and Trevor Kirkland; and her great-granddaughters, Mabel Kirkland, Rosemary Kirkland, and Harriet Kirkland. She will be missed by many other family members and friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Hazel and Joseph Topia.
Services will be private, family only, and take place at The Crossing Church.
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Donations in her memory may be made through the American Indian College Fund. (https://collegefund.org/)