LEON JACK SALMELA Leon Jack "Jackie" Salmela died on December 10, 17 days short of his 89th birthday, of age- related causes. Jackie was a native of Sebastian, graduating from Vero Beach High School in 1941. He enlisted in the Army Air Forces in 1942 and served as a fighter pilot, receiving 3 Bronze Service Stars in the India-Burma, China-Burma and Central Burma Campaigns and the Distinguished Flying Cross and 1 Oak Leaf Cluster and Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters and Asiatic- Pacific Theatre Ribbon and Medal. He was honorably discharged from the Army Air Corp in
1945 but continued to serve as a Captain in the Air Force Reserves until 1959. Jackie joined the Brevard Mosquito Control District as a spray pilot in 1947. Over the next 39 years he built a legacy of environmentally friendly mosquito control and wildlife conservation. While he also received recognition for his contributions to public health, economic growth and the space program, he cherished two awards above any other honor. As described by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, his Conservation Service Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Secretary [Department of Interior] to private citizens. It was presented to Mr. Salmela for his endless contributions to wildlife conservation through effective mosquito control techniques and his personal dedication to effective management of wildlife resources. And, as described by the Florida Mosquito Control Association (FMCA), the Provost Award is given to FMCA members who have devoted their careers to mosquito control, while at the same time showing profound concern for the environment. Jack Salmela (Director of Brevard Mosquito Control District) was awarded this honor largely for his work in the wetlands management and conservation efforts in association with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Jackie will be remembered for his love of God, his country, his birthplace and his extended family and friends and all their associated flora and fauna. His generosity, good humor, grace and wit and his encyclopedic knowledge and memory will be missed by all who were privileged to know him. He and his family deeply appreciated the loving care provided by Sebastian Memorial Hospital physicians and staff and Nightingale and Acucare home healthcare services. Their compassionate care enabled Jackie to live out his days in the comfort of his home. Jackie is preceded in death by his childhood sweetheart and first wife, Helen Florschutz Salmela and their son Bobby; his second delightful wife, Betty Vickers Salmela; his parents, Jaako and Saimi Salmela, sisters Saidi, Tyyne, Martha, and Lila; and infant brother, Andrew. Jackie is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, William Jack Salmela and Marjorie, and their children Jimmy, Valerie, Kimberly, and Jackie, and his daughter and son-in-law, Joy and Tom Mitchell and Tom's son David, as well as his devoted sister-in-law Sandra Waltermire and her children Rosi, Genie, Dickie, and Bobby and his loving niece Marty Pyke. He also leaves his sister Edna Gould, her daughter Donna Draves and Donna's daughter Lorie as well as several great grandchildren and other nieces and families of nieces. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Jackie's name to Wells Fargo Bank, 1524 US Hwy 1, Sebastian, FL 32958. Pending arrangements with the University of Florida or other suitable, well-vetted, nonprofit organization, contributions will fund competitive, peer- reviewed awards to graduate students and/or post-doctoral professionals associated with the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and/or State of Florida Bureau of Entomology laboratories in furtherance of the lifelong work of recipients of the FMCA Provost Award in environmentally sound mosquito control resulting in wildlife conservation. Questions can be directed to Jackie's daughter, Joy Mitchell (352) 528-2256. Arrangements by Strunk Funeral Home in Sebastian (772) 589-1000. Visitation is Wednesday, December 19, 2-4 PM; Service is Thursday, December 20, 1-2:30 PM; Gathering of family and friends, Thursday, December 20, 2:30-4:00 PM at 1141 US Hwy 1, Sebastian. Paid Obituary

Funeral Home

Strunk Funeral Home and Crematory
1623 N. Central Avenue  Sebastian, FL 32958
(772) 589-1000

Published in the TC Palm on Dec. 18, 2012