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‘She loved everybody, everybody loved her back’: Beloved RJ office manager dies

Updated June 17, 2024 - 4:11 pm

Mary Salamy, a longtime newsroom office manager for the Las Vegas Review-Journal adored by reporters and other staff members of the newspaper, has died. She was 79.

Salamy was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia a year ago and passed away Friday, according to her sister, Randa Todd of Henderson.

Born in Jerusalem, the third sibling of five kids, Salamy and her family immigrated to the United States from the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the early 1950s, said Todd, adding that Salamy’s passport lists her birthplace as Israel.

Salamy lived in New York for several years, working for an attorney’s office on Wall Street, and later received a degree in business administration from a two-year business college in Salt Lake City, Todd said.

“She was quiet, full of energy, very detailed, loyal and always discreet in her careers and life,” said Todd, who is a former classified ad director at the newspaper.

Todd, 80, said she convinced her sister to apply for a job as newsroom assistant, a position that eventually led to Salamy’s promotion as newsroom office manager.

“Best thing ever for Mary and the newsroom,” Todd said. “That department ran like a top under her control. She was firm, yet always helpful and proud of everyone’s accomplishments.”

Salamy was hired on April 24, 1989 and retired on July 1, 2011.

She took pride in her work and one of her passions was local college sports, Todd said.

“We attended many sports functions together, supported UNLV Athletics, at times traveled with the basketball and football teams at away games,” she said. “We had season tickets for both sports.”

“Her second passion in life was the love for her church, St. Michael’s Cathedral,” her sister said. “She served on the parish council for years and supported the church in every way she could. I drove her to church the past two years when she no longer could safely drive.”

Loved by co-workers

Current and former Review-Journal employees have fond memories of Salamy’s presence in the newsroom and her positive attitude toward reporters and editors.

“A truly beautiful person with the kindest heart,” copy editor Joe Hawk said in a newsroom email. “But she genuinely loved each staffer. So, so special person.”

Many had memories of her handling everyday details such as reporter sign-out forms and mileage claims.

“She was the mother hen of the newsroom, especially for reporters in their 20s who were slipshod with the paperwork,” said Mike Weatherford, former entertainment reporter at the paper.

Some veteran and former staffers remember when Salamy would famously insist that they use only black ink when printing on forms to her, and would say, “If it’s not in black, send it back!”

‘Got a kick out of us’

His wife, Joan Weatherford, who was a feature writer at the newspaper from 1993 to 1999, recalls that Salamy “kept the engine running, a beloved mom that kept you in line but not in a mean way, great sense of humor.”

“I would add that she was the center of an unruly bunch and got a kick out of us, and had the ability to navigate both sides,” Joan Weatherford said. “We knew she was watching every penny for management yet when it came to mileage and reimbursements she made sure we got every penny coming to us as well.”

Padmini Pai, who managed the newsroom library while Salamy worked there, said Salamy was “wonderful to work with” and remembers that when Salamy got frustrated “she would bang on the table and say,’God Bless America!’”

“She was so helpful, you ask her anything, like how many days do I have left of vacation, and she would tell you,” Pai said. “She could do anything that was in her purview. She would do it at once. No procrastination, not asking why or anything. As a person she was very, very kind.

“And sometimes,” Pai said, “when she was first doing the job, it’s a pretty responsible job, and one day she was so frustrated she started crying and I went to her sister, Randa, and I said, ‘Randa, you gotta do something. Mary is just overwhelmed and she’s crying,’ and Randa just smiled and said she’ll be OK,’ and she was OK, but it was such a steep learning curve for her keeping track of that many people.”

‘Such great warmth’

“I think Mary Salamy could predict the future needs of the newsroom and the needs of the people in the newsroom before they could,” said Mary Hynes, a longtime Review-Journal editor and staff writer who is now an investigations reporter. “She was just so on top of things all the time, and she treated people with such great warmth. So I will remember just how sharp she was, but also this warmth that she conveyed.”

Her husband, John Kerr, also had high praise.

“She was a wonderful person and amazing at her job. The best. The gold standard,” said Kerr, who is editorial page editor at the newspaper.

Retired features writer John Przybys underscored Salamy’s kind, caring nature and marveled at her ability to help newsroom staffers with issues.

‘She loved everybody, everybody loved her back’

“She could fix any, any employment problem you had, she knew everything and knew everybody,” he said. “So if you didn’t get a check or whatever, she would be on it and get it fixed, as an office manager. But the coolest thing is, she went beyond that because she was kind of like the — I don’t know — the house mother.”

“She would also take care of people, just to see how you’re doing if a family member died, if you were sick, she would always just stop by and say hello and see how you were doing,” Przybys said. “Check up. She was that kind of informal sort of person that every office has or should have. Mary was just a wonderful person. She loved everybody, everybody loved her back.”

Salamy’s funeral is tentatively planned to take place June 29 at Palm Mortuary, 800 S. Boulder Highway in Henderson, Todd said.

Contact Jeff Burbank at jburbank@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0382. Follow him @JeffBurbank2 on X.

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