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Irvin Salky

1941 - 2017 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Irvin Salky Obituary
Irvin Salky

Memphis, TN

Irvin Salky, 75, died on May 11, 2017, from pneumonia following a stroke. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee on November 14, 1941 to parents Molly and Herman Salky. He graduated from Central High School (1959), Memphis State University (1963), and Vanderbilt Law School (1966), and he served in the U. S. Navy Reserve.

Through his life, his work, and his friendships, Irvin made Memphis a better place. He declined offers to work in San Francisco and elsewhere, choosing to stay in Memphis as a member of the city's first integrated law firm, working alongside civil rights law partners Russell Sugarmon, Marvin Ratner, Louis Lucas, and A. W. Willis, and associates Walter Bailey, Herman Morris, Otis Higgs, and Richard Fields, among others.

An ardent supporter of live music, he founded the Beale Street Music Festival, and he represented and managed music icons Phineas Newborn, Furry Lewis, Fred Ford, and Memphis Slim. When the Chisca Hotel told an African American member of a jazz band that he couldn't stay there, Irvin convinced them otherwise, and they gave him a room. Irvin worked tirelessly for his clients, providing pro bono support to many grateful individuals over the years.

Irvin developed friendships with people from all walks of life, regardless of religion, race, or economic status. He was a sharp-dressed, dapper gentleman who loved hats, sports, classic cars, and Midtown Memphis. He was a mentor and close advisor to Congressman Steve Cohen. His gentle, genuine nature, his ability to connect with people, and his sense of humor touched all who knew him. Memphis has lost one of its great treasures.

He is survived by two sisters, Evelyn Meltzer (Mitchell) and Linda Mendelson (Malcolm), his nieces and nephews, Dr. Hal Meltzer (Dr. Adriana Diakiw), Arlene Gelman (Steve), Marla Dobrin (Derek), Leslie Morris (David), and Barry Mendelson (Kristin), his grand nieces and nephews, Sadie, Elijah, Isaac, Jessica, Nicole, Paris, Liberty, Victoria, Sydney, and Elliot, and his soul mate, Beanie Self.

Services will be held at 10am Monday, May 15th at the Sam Abraham Chapel in Baron Hirsch Cemetery (1523 Rozelle St).

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center or the ACLU, and support your local musicians. Next time you're out watching live music, enjoy it and remember Irvin.
Published in The Commercial Appeal on May 14, 2017
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