Daniel Dominic Salerno, 70, of Kalamazoo, MI, died unexpectedly of a heart attack on Thursday, June 22, 2023.
Born July 14, 1952, in Battle Creek, MI, Dan was the son of Anthony Francis Salerno and Ruth Marie (Mescher) Salerno, both of whom predeceased him.
A 1970 graduate of St. Philip Catholic Central High School and 1974 graduate of Olivet College, Dan earned a Master's degree in Social Research from Hunter College.
For several years he lived in New York City. He was Director of Research at the National Coalition for the Homeless and also worked at the Catholic Worker soup kitchen.
Around 1986, Dan returned to Michigan and for 10 years supported himself as a freelance writer and adjunct college writing instructor.
Dan held various positions at South Michigan Food Bank in Kalamazoo during his 25-year tenure there. He retired in 2014 as Director of Fund Development.
As a young man, he and his brother, Dominic, hitchhiked across the country from Battle Creek to California. In another travel adventure, he and his sister, Dorothy, traipsed around the USA, taking advantage of a Greyhound bus "See America" pass. He also spent time at L’Abri Fellowship, an international study center and residential community in the Swiss Alps.
Dan dedicated his life to social justice and helping people in need of assistance, which is evident from the jobs he held at the food bank, homeless organization and soup kitchen. He volunteered weekly at Peace House, and also gave of his time at the Growing Community Garden.
He was also a man of faith, active in the churches he belonged to. He went on five mission trips to Crossfire Trust in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, and once to Japan. He taught Sunday School for more than 25 years. After 9/11, he worked in Brooklyn for 16 months for Bill Wilson’s Metro World Child, a children’s ministry.
He had a special fondness for helping children. In addition to his Sunday School teaching, Dan tutored children learning English as a second language, and also volunteered in an after-school program for children which provided them with something to eat and tutoring help.
Dan loved animals. As a younger adult he had two cats, Dominic and Carmine. Later in life, Dan got two rescue cats, Buddy and Abbott, who provided companionship for 17 years before dying within two months of each other in early 2021. More recently, he volunteered at Kalamazoo Animal Rescue.
Dan was the author of two books, "20 Short Ones: 20 Tales of Hope," and "Metropolis: Tales from a Small Town."
He is survived by 7 siblings: Douglas (Rhonda) Salerno, of Tucson; Dianna (Dale) Dummer, of Lansing; David Salerno, of Battle Creek; Dorothy (Charlie) Evans, of Longwood, FL; Dominic (Penny) Salerno, of Portage; Donna (Larry) Ebbs, of Naples, FL; Deborah (Barry Ryder) Salerno, of Ann Arbor; 11 nieces and nephews; 9 grandnieces and grandnephews; and many close friends.
Per his wishes, his body has been donated to the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine.
A memorial service will be held at Sunnyside United Methodist Church, 2800 Gull Rd., Kalamazoo, on Sunday, July 16. Taizé musical prelude begins at 12 noon; the service begins at 12:30 PM. Livestreaming available via this link: https://youtube.com/live/1AXOJs4YKyM A reception will follow with light refreshments.
The family is being assisted by the Avink, McCowen & Secord Funeral Homes and Cremation Society, 5975 Lovers Lane, Portage, MI 49002 (269) 344-5600.