Salas 'enriched the people of Guam in many different ways' – The Guam Daily Post

The late John Camacho Salas was honored during his state funeral yesterday morning at the Guam Congress Building in Hagåtña.

Salas served as a senator of the 24th and 25th Guam Legislatures, and was also the founding president of Guam Community College and the seventh president of the University of Guam.

Members of Guam’s executive, legislative and judicial branches gathered to pay their final respects to Salas, and to present his family with a proclamation from the governor and a legislative resolution commemorating his life and work.

A eulogy, filled with happy and humorous memories of Salas, was read by Gerald Perez, former director of the Guam Visitors Bureau.

Despite the lighthearted relationship he and Salas shared, Perez said, “there was a serious side to John, one that has enriched the people of Guam in many different ways.”

He explained how Salas brought the “gift of possibility” to generations of Guam’s students and how he left an impression that will survive in others.

“In the words of Abraham Lincoln, ‘In the end it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years that matter,'” Perez said. “As someone who has known John well, I will tell you, the life in his many, many years mattered greatly.”

An ‘outstanding public figure’

Moreover, Perez called Salas a cultural advocate who catalogued an inventory of CHamoru songs, verses and legends, all the while articulating the island’s “sense of place” wherever he went.

Perez shared memories of Salas carrying his guitar around the UOG campus and singing songs, and how he could sing not only in CHamoru, but in Pohnpeian, Chuukese, Palauan, Yapese and Carolinian.

Perez shared how Salas was very much at home in Micronesia, how much he liked public service, and how proud he was of his family.

The resolution, read by Sen. Régine Biscoe Lee, called Salas a “lifelong educator and outstanding public figure whose actions, words and wisdom were an inspiration to all.”

The ceremony was opened and closed with blessings by Rev. Jeffrey San Nicolas.

Education and career

Salas graduated from Father Duenas Memorial School in 1965, then attended Northern Colorado State College where he earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial education in 1969. He proceeded to obtain a master’s degree in education supervision and a doctorate in philosophy in technical and industrial education from the University of Connecticut in 1974.

He went on to become a curriculum specialist at the Connecticut State Department of Education, deputy superintendent of public instruction for the Guam Public School System, a consultant to the U.S. Navy Recruiting Command Eastern Region, and an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut and the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

His career in education concluded as a tenured associate professor of international tourism at the University of Guam.

In addition, Salas served as a talkshow host for K-57 AM radio, the first executive director of the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association, the vice president of human resources and community relations for the Middle Pacific Division of the Duty Free Shoppers Ltd. Partnership, and was the owner of his own consulting firm that specialized in tourism development and human resources.

As a son of Guam, Salas devoted time to civic organizations, such as the Guam Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Guam Special Olympics and the Chamorro District of the Boy Scouts of America, and had served as a member of the board of trustees at the College of Micronesia and Guam Community College. He was also a district governor of the Lions Clubs International District 204.

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