Salvadore Joseph Anselmo, Sr. entered into eternal life on March 9, 2020 at the age of 94. He is survived by his longtime loving companion of 35 years, Linda A.M. Prattini, his son, Salvadore Anselmo, Jr., his daughter, Madeline Anselmo Champagne (Michel), his grandson, Kevin Bumgarner (Alex), 2 great-grandchildren, Lillie and Liam Bumgarner and many other loving relatives and friends.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Eleanor Anselmo, his brothers Anthony and Frank, and his sisters Stella Bergeron and Mary Catalanotto.
Sal Anselmo was a great ambassador for the Italian community and the City of New Orleans and deeply loved his heritage. His father, whose parents came from Roccamena, Sicily was born on Oak Alley Plantation. His mother was also born in Roccamena, Sicily and came to the United States in 1900 at the age of four. In Louisiana, as a child, his mother picked cotton and cut sugar cane. His father, the first of fourteen children, also cut sugar cane. In later years, Sal’s grandparents and parents migrated to New Orleans around 1924. Sal is the youngest of five children and the only child to be born in New Orleans.
Sal was a native of New Orleans. He attended Sacred Heart of Jesus, Hines School, and a trade school in New Orleans.
At the age of 18 Sal joined the Navy and served from 1943–1946 as a Navy fireman 1st class and transferred to submarine defense. He became a member of the Navy Nets and Booms during World War II. He was trained to make anti-submarine and anti-torpedo nets that were laid across San Francisco Bay between the Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz. The steel nets protected San Francisco from submarine attacks and protected ships in the harbor. He served in Saipan and made, laid and patrolled the nets which hung about ten feet in the water, held up by huge steel buoys. At times this was a dangerous duty. The nets protected the task force and ships in Saipan’s harbor. The nets were placed behind the ships and protected their backs from torpedoes and destruction. In fact, Sal was stationed on Saipan when the planes that bombed Japan flew over his head.
Sal was awarded the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal Ribbon, the World War II Victory Medal and the American Theater Campaign Medal Ribbon. In 2009 the State of Louisiana presented Sal with the Louisiana Veterans Honor Medal to honor his Sacrifice and Service to our country. Sal was invited to represent the Navy in the parade and the grand opening of the World War II Museum on the anniversary of D Day, December 7, 2001, at the age of 76. He was proud to serve in the U.S. Navy and enjoyed participating in the parade by riding in the center, on top of a Navy convoy truck, and waving the American flag.
In 2013, Sal donated stories, photos, letters and exhibits to the WWII Museum regarding the Nets and Booms and the duties performed by the sailors in this dangerous and specialized branch of the Navy. Included also was the story published in the Sea Classics, July 2010 magazine written by Sal Anselmo explaining Nets and Booms and the service they provided.
Sal’s father was the owner of Johnny’s Music House originally on Rampart Street. His grandfather and father placed some of the first jukeboxes in businesses in New Orleans. When Sal returned from the Navy he took over the business and sold musical instruments, albums and records and later moved to Dryades Street. Being the owner of Johnny’s Music House, Sal met many of the local notable people that came into his business such as Fats Domino and Professor Longhair. He even met Harry Connick, Jr. when he was a young performer. After a decades-long career as owner of the popular local record store, Sal said to himself: “I am not going to sit in a rocking chair when I retire.” He didn’t seem to want to sit at all. Sal had quite a musical background and has been dancing since he was a teenager and was a very accomplished dancer. He was talked into competition dancing at age 65, having won competitions in Manhattan, New York (at age 75), New Orleans and Baton Rouge. He also performed in numerous Mardi Gras balls, various dance events in the city including the Republican National Convention in 1988, promoting the Footloose Broadway production in New Orleans at the Saenger Theatre in 1999 and even portrayed Elvis in a Grease number in 2014 at the age of 89. He took part in a twist contest at the Hyatt (before Katrina) and won first place in that contest. A few years ago he won first place and a gold edged stein glass from the Deutsches Haus for performing the chicken dance. Over the years he has participated in amateur talent shows on cruises entertaining the audience with his dancing ability.
Sal loved cycling and started at the age of 60. In honor of his 81st birthday in 2006, he cycled 81 miles from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. From when he was a boy during the depression through his adult life, Sal has faced lesson after lesson about the value of things. Toys get stolen. Stores get robbed. But passion can never be taken away and Sal was passionate about cycling. He pedaled over 1,300 miles in rides ranging from 30-40 miles each. He said he felt good when he was riding but he had to remember to turn around and head home. Sal approached long-distance cycling with the curiosity of an explorer, leaving the straight and fast routes to see what was down the side roads and in the small towns. It’s hard to say whether Sal’s passion for cycling drove his energy level or if his energy level drove his passion. He proved that you don’t have to slow down after you turn 65.
Sal also loved bowling and had done so for over 60 years and still bowled once a week at the age of 94. He participated in the Senior Olympics in 2017 and won five gold medals, one in 5k cycling, one in 10k cycling and three in bowling doubles, mixed doubles and singles. Sal was presented a plaque for being the oldest participant in the 2017 Greater New Orleans Senior Olympics in five districts (Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, Plaquemines and St. Tammany parishes). 875 people participated in 32 events.
Sal entered the 110th USBC Open Championships in Reno, Nevada and bowled in team, doubles and single events.
Sal was a Lieutenant Officer in the “I’m a Dancer Dance Club” for 18 years.
Sal also enjoyed riding in the Chris Owens French Quarter Easter parade and had done so for 18 years.
Sal was awarded the 2018 Louisiana American Italian Veterans award from the American Italian Cultural Center.
Family and friends are invited to attend the visitation to be held at JACOB SCHOEN & SON FUNERAL HOME, 3827 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA 70119 on Sunday March 15, 2020 from 6:00 – 9:00 pm. A Mass of Christian burial will be held at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, 4640 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA on Monday March 16, 2020 at 1:30 pm. Interment at Lake Lawn Park at 5100 Pontchartrain Blvd. in New Orleans will immediately follow the Mass. Condolences may be expressed at www.schoenfh.com
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