We Celebrate Brother John Salyers



Sincerest respect and gratitude to our Sisters Maureen Reilly and Wendy McCay for sharing their reflections on our beloved Brother John Salyers.  Below insights are scheduled to be published in the next edition of The Official IATSE Bulletin as well.





John Salyers passed away on the evening of August 16, 2019 at the age of 56. John was born on October 13, 1962 to George and Jeanette Salyers. He was the youngest of five children and was adored by his four older sisters. This incredibly loving family aided John all the way to his passing from cancer.

Forty years ago, at the age of 16, John stepped backstage at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and spent the rest of his life working in the theatre business. He was the first to admit what a fulfilling career it was.

John graduated from Miami University in Ohio in 1984 with a major in History and minors in Art and Religion. John’s passion for history and art would be lifelong. In 1979, John began his career at the Cincinnati Playhouse. For 14 years, he worked in such capacities as House Manager, Facilities Manager, Company Manager and Box Office. In 1993, he moved to Chicago and worked again as House Manager and Facilities Manager for the Goodman Theatre.

In 1996, John began his career as a Dresser for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. He was initiated into IATSE as a Brother in 1999. His work at the Lyric would span 24 years. John also served as Lyric’s Wardrobe Steward for 19 years. During his career there, he eventually assumed the position of Principal Male Dresser. John was an integral part of the performances at Lyric. He always went above and beyond to make life backstage truly enjoyable for all Lyric colleagues and guest artists. The array of international talent that John attended to was staggering. He walked into every call with professionalism, warmth, humility, and humor that acted as an example for so many people backstage. That energy was welcoming and steadfast and everyday contributed to successful performances. He was the one offering words of encouragement for countless artists in the moments right before they stepped out onto the stage. He was a true constant for the principal male artists.

During the off-season of the Lyric, John could be found at the Box Office of the Chicago White Sox, balancing his talent between the arts and major league baseball.

Not only did John devote his life to the Arts, but he was passionate and driven to do more. For Local 769 members, John served as President of the Local for five terms, serving from 2003 to 2018. He always believed that one needed to be an active participant in serving others. Whether it be in the role of Local 769 leadership or helping others to understand the importance of the IATSE PAC fund, his devotion to education and involvement in terms of political importance will be sorely missed.

Perhaps the largest void that will come from his passing will be how incredibly he touched every single person who knew him. Without a doubt, his words and friendship helped all who knew him feel an extra ease and whether they realized it or not helped them to be their best.

He was such a bright light on numerous levels. Friends and colleagues will forever remember the intelligence and beautiful spirit of John. He was an example of how to live a life full of grace, dignity, love and humor. Brother John will be irreplaceable.



The posting below came to us from our colleague/IATSE International Representative Patricia White - Aug 19, 2019


On behalf of the Executive Board and membership of your sibling Theatrical Wardrobe Union in New York City, Local 764, I send love and sympathy to John's family and to all of his Local 769 family of workers and friends, who he served faithfully as President for many years.  He will be missed beyond Chicago. In solidarity.