May 10, 1964 - January 9, 2022
Hank Salemi, a resident of Libertyville, IL and highly respected President of Six Flags Great America passed away unexpectedly on January 9, 2022. Hank was the embodiment of everything we all adore about the perfect Dad Joke: funny, warm, clever, delivered with perfect timing and a sparkling eye. He had the rare ability to make everyone around him feel valued, and his wit and wisdom made us all better people. Hank taught us to treasure family, genuinely “see” the people around us, listen to all perspectives before making a decision, live with integrity, lead with kindness, and cheer for Alabama. May he watch every game from the best seat in the house. Hank’s world revolved around his wife Kathleen and his daughter Claire. He was endlessly proud of both of them and delighted in Claire’s success in school and her many activities. He once wrote that Claire was the “light in any given day” and always beamed when talking about her. Hank and Kathleen met and married in their mid-30s, a union most assuredly touched by God. They connected instantly, were true soulmates from the start and complemented each other in every way. Hank, Kathleen and Claire always had another trip on the calendar and loved seeing the world together. Another lesson to learn from Hank: your family is the most important thing, so love them unabashedly and that includes the family dogs Gus, Dixie and Ben. Hank’s creative genius, both in his amazing writing skills and ability to tell a story and deliver a punchline, made us all want to be in the room with him. His polite Southern demeanor and a “drawl” that kicked in when he was back in his home state was part of his charm. And if you were ever hugged by Hank, you surely knew how he felt about you. His childhood bonds never wavered and his ability to make and maintain friendships around the world was a rare gift. He enjoyed poker night with the guys, cooking on his grill and smoker, making his dad's Italian pasta sauce, as well as nights out and trips with Kathleen and friends. Hank was in the people business, beginning his career with Ringling Brothers/Feld Entertainment in Boston, before moving to Chicago where he worked for Ogden Corporation. Hank found his professional home of 24 years at Six Flags and was deeply loved and respected by his entire Six Flags family. As Park President, he was responsible for both full time and seasonal team members for 16 years and operated Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, IL. Prior to his current role, Hank was Chief Marketing Officer for Six Flags Corporate based in Oklahoma City, in charge of all marketing and advertising for 40 parks worldwide. In addition to his leadership at Six Flags, Hank was a global leader serving on the Board of IAAPA International Amusement Parks Association for the last seven years. During his time with IAAPA, he was elected as the association’s treasurer and chairman of the IAAPA Compensation Committee. Recently, he received the distinguished Special Services Award for his exemplary contributions guiding major decisions for the association. He was the leader we all aspire to be - an expert in his field and an expert in being a friend, a coach, and a cheerleader. Throughout his dedicated career in the amusement industry, both locally and internationally, it is not an exaggeration to say that Hank truly touched thousands of lives. Hank was born on May 10, 1964, in Birmingham, AL, to Barbara and Henry Salemi. He was a loving and supportive son and brother all of his life. He lived in Boston, Charleston, and the Chicagoland area; moved to Oklahoma and then back to Chicago, settling in Libertyville in 2006. He graduated from the University of Alabama and was a member of St. Joseph Parish in Libertyville. Surviving Hank is his wife of 21 years, Kathleen; daughter, Claire; mother, Barbara Salemi; sister, Debra Salemi; and many nieces, nephews and in-laws spanning Alabama, Chicago, Colorado, Michigan, and Washington, all who treasured him dearly. He was preceded in death by a beautiful infant daughter, Colleen Salemi, his father, Henry Salemi and by his sister, Sherry Cummings. A funeral mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday, January 17, 2022 at St. Joseph Church, 121 E. Maple Avenue, Libertyville, IL. We realize these are challenging times and we are striving to make this a safe environment to celebrate Hank’s life. Mask wearing is mandatory. We understand if you are not able or comfortable to attend and welcome you to view the service virtually. Please find the link to the Mass on the funeral home website at https://www.stjoseph-libertyville.org. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Give Kids the World (www.gktw.org), the Trisomy 18 Foundation (www.trisomy18.org), and PADS Lake County (www.padslakecounty.org). Arrangements by Burnett-Dane Funeral Home in Libertyville. For info: 847-362-3009 or share a memory at www.burnettdane.com. Hank left his mark on all those who were lucky enough to know this great man. His wisdom, friendship and love make us all better. There is a saying that “a life well lived is a beautiful legacy.” Long live the legacy of Charles “Hank” Salemi. Roll Tide, Hank. Roll Tide. A ‘Celebration of Life’ gathering will immediately follow the mass. The family will be visiting with friends and family from 12 – 3:00 pm at: Independence Grove 16400 W. Buckley Road Libertyville, Il 60048 Masking will be required and appreciated. In lieu of a sit down luncheon, a boxed lunch to-go will be available for our guests.
Hank Salemi, a resident of Libertyville, IL and highly respected President of Six Flags Great America passed away unexpectedly on January 9, 2022. Hank was the embodiment of everything we all adore about the perfect Dad Joke: funny, warm, clever,... View Obituary & Service Information
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