October 22, 1939 – January 15, 2014
Johnny drifted into the arms of his Lord after a courageous 11-month battle with Lymphoma. God blessed his family with a beautiful, precious night to say farewell. Love, laughter and tears lifted him up until he took his final breath. It was difficult for him to say “goodbye” which was apparent by the strong beating of his generous heart until the very end.
Johnny had blue eyes that sparkled and a magnetic personality that drew everyone in. He was a gifted “storyteller” and he could entertain any crowd. He was a born leader and would establish his presence in the room with a smile, a laugh or his bellowing voice. There was no mistaking that he was near by, as he was the life of every party. He was meticulous and organized and provided a loving, beautiful home for his wife and children and anyone else who might be in need of a place to stay. He would never turn away someone in need, but he did so quietly, as he needed or expected nothing in return.
Johnny was born and raised in Douglas, AZ by his father, Edward Salem and his mother, Angeline Salem-Brooks. He attended Loretto Elementary School, graduated from Douglas High School and attended college at the University of Arizona. He spent his youth serving in the Catholic Church as an altar boy and carried his faith with him throughout his life. He was an ardent football fan for UofA and Notre Dame. You always knew how well his teams were doing by whether he was cheering at the TV or yelling at the players and refs! We think he thought they could hear him! He found great joy in teasing his sons and nephews when his teams took victory over theirs!
Johnny spent his career serving others while protecting the cities of Tucson and Phoenix as a Patrolman, Detective and Sargent. He retired from the Phoenix Police Department in 1984. In 1986 he decided to take on a second career and became a Special Agent for NICB in their Insurance Fraud Department and retired after 18 years. During his time as a police officer he also served for 10 years in the Army National Guard and belonged to several organizations associated with the police department including being a lifetime member of the Fraternal Order of Police.
In the third grade Johnny met the “love of his life” Jo Ann Peddicord and showed his affection by throwing rocks at her. They were married in 1962 and spent the next 51 years together creating a wonderful life in the valley for their three children, Johnny, Jr., Michelle and Tim. When he wasn’t working, Johnny enjoyed RV’ing and travelling around the country with Jo Ann, golfing, playing cards or fishing. He was a supporter of any charity that fed the hungry and cared for sick children. He maintained and nurtured lifelong friendships, which included many of his partners and colleagues from the police force, as well as childhood friends and schoolmates. Johnny found the most joy with family and friends filling his house where he could entertain them with yet another story and share in their love and laughter.
Three days before Johnny died, he said he wanted to have a party. Within 12 hours there were over 100 people, from 4 states, filling the house, lifting his heart with love and bringing a beautiful smile to his face. Those blue eyes sparkled once again as he got to say his final farewell to those he loved dearly.
Johnny is survived by his amazing, beautiful wife Jo Ann, son, Johnny, Jr. (Lisa), daughter, Michelle (Mike), son, Tim (Melisa). He is also survived by his grandchildren, Trey, Michael, Trent, Chase, Tori, Mark, Lisa, Hope and Joel and his great-grandchildren, Morgen and Quentin. Johnny was one of eight children and is survived by his brothers Ralph, Mark and Jose, sisters, Carol, Karen, Suzanne and Melinda as well as, his stepmother Lupe Salem and many cousins, nieces, nephews and friends and his three faithful canine companions, Mitzi, Georgi and Allie.
Johnny has been called a “once in a generation man.” We praise God each day for the joy he brought us and for blessings our lives with him. We are better people because of him.
The Salem family wishes to express their deepest appreciation to the wonderful caregivers from Hospice Of The Valley for their abundant kindest, warmth and dedication to Johnny. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Johnny’s name (Edward J. Salem, Sr.) to Hospice Of The Valley, 1515 E. Flower, Phoenix, AZ 85016.
Funeral mass to be held on Friday, February 21, 2014, 10:00am at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, 6180 W. Utopia Road, Glendale, AZ 85038. Following mass there will be a reception at the family residence.Print Obituary & Condolences