Marquette’s greatest neighbor, former Chief of Police Sal Sarvello passes at 73

MARQUETTE, Mich. — Former Chief of Police Sal Sarvello was my across-the-street neighbor for 31 years. Growing up, Sal and his wife Joan were second Grandparents to me. He was my Confirmation sponsor, and watched over my house — and the neighborhood — with a life-long dedication to protect and serve.

In the early 90s, I was the ring-bearer in his son’s Scott’s wedding. Sal once saved our house from catching fire after we improperly disposed of fireworks on the 4th of July. He would snow-blow my driveway when we got over our head and was always checking-in on fellow neighbors.

Scott Sarvello, Andrew, Sal, and Mike Sarvello

Sal advised me on my run for Commission and the Sarvellos were supporters of my dreams from the time I was five-years-old. Sal actually helped shape some of our policies and talking-points. I still hear him in my head.

“Whatever you do, Andrew, make sure to fund Police, Fire, and Public Works. Police, Fire, and Public Works!”

Sal would give me rides during snowstorms, where he’d tell me to celebrate the city’s successes and the work of municipal employees. He was continuously embedding in me deep respect for servitude and law enforcement. Sal was the good cop. He had strong opinions. We sometimes disagreed. We come from different eras, but he regularly made sure I kept my head on my shoulders during my ascent into the political sphere. I was, and still am, accountable to Sal Sarvello.

My goal in servitude partly involved not letting him down. I hope to honor him during our first Commission meeting, my first day in office. Nothing on my first day would make me more proud. I know he’s watching. Sal was always watching.

He was still engaged with — and opinionated about — local politics long after his retirement in 2001. He loved this city. Sal watched every City Commission meeting, and would regularly applaud or scold my public comments. I’m heartbroken he won’t see me serve, or get married, but so grateful for his advice and support, especially helping shape who I am.

Sal’s last text message to me was, “Thank you for taking out our trash and taking care of Joan.” The Sarvellos were married for over 50 years. He loved her dearly. They are the greatest neighbors anyone could ask for. During my childhood, he did far more for us, and the entire community, than we could ever repay.

Chief Salvatore Sarvello joined the Marquette Police Department as a patrolman in 1971, but his law enforcement career goes back to the mid-60s, when he served as a U.S. Air Force Security police officer in Vietnam. My high school report on Veterans was about Sal’s time in Vietnam. He was active in Marquette West Rotary Club and with his parish, St. Michael’s Catholic Church, a church we attended together from before my first Communion through Confirmation. Sal and Joan were always there, nearly every Sunday, just pews behind our family.

Sal kept tabs on my siblings. He helped guide the three of with his commanding influence. When we got in trouble in high school, my dad sent us down to Chief Sal’s office at MQPD to “talk.” At my sister’s wedding, Joan and he were honored as the longest married couple in a room of over 100 couples, over 10 years ago.

“When I think of home, I think of Sal,” said Peter Lorinser. “There’s so much in his great life to celebrate and I know that I’ve been thinking of many of them the last few days: from my childhood playing with Bucky, to running around the neighborhood having him call me Kirby Pucket, to my college days when I would come home and he’d shout, ‘There’s the future junior senator from Massachusetts!’ We were so lucky to have grown up next to this great family.”

He died Friday evening, the day before my birthday, November 1, 2019, at UP Health System – Marquette, in the loving, comforting care of his family, Joan, his two sons Mike and Scott, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren.

Sal, thank you for 40+ years of service to our country, the city, and the neighborhood. I’m honored to have called you a friend. May you rest in peace.

Friends may call at St. Michael Catholic Church on Friday, November 8, beginning at 10:00 am. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 1:00 pm with Rev. Greg Heikkala, pastor, as celebrant. Members of the City of Marquette Police Department will stand honor guard and serve as pallbearers. A reception will follow in the St. Michael Parish Center. Interment will be made in the Holy Cross Cemetery. Fassbender Swanson Hansen Funeral and Cremation Services is serving the family. To send flowers to the family of Salvatore D. “Sal” Sarvello, Jr, please visit Tribute Store.