Gary Gerard DeSalvo was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on November 4, 1954, to Frank and Esther DeSalvo. Gary was raised in Marrero, Louisiana, and at the age of 6, he prayed with his mother to receive Jesus as personal Lord and Savior. He graduated from West Jefferson High School in 1972, and then attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Gary became very involved in Campus Crusade for Christ ministry at LSU, and there he met the love of his life, Beverly (“Bev”) Hough. Gary and Bev were married on the LSU campus on September 4, 1976.
While studying as a pre-med student, Gary was called to pastoral ministry. After graduating from LSU in 1976, Gary and Bev moved to Dallas, Texas, where he studied at Dallas Theological Seminary. He graduated from DTS in May 1981 with a Master of Theology, and in August of that year accepted the position as pastor of a young church in Temple, Texas – Temple Bible Church. The small congregation originally met in the Carpenter’s Union Hall, and later moved to the Frank W. Mayborn Civic & Convention Center. The church continued to grow as Gary preached the Word, and moved to its current location at 3205 Oakview Drive in 1986.
Gary was a steadfast leader and an unusually gifted teacher, able to take difficult topics and hard truths and preach them in a loving, incisive, and applicable way. Gary’s humor, wit, and genuine warmth endeared him to so many who affectionately knew him as Pastor Gary. He also had a heart for global missions, and helped start pastors’ conferences in Ukraine and Rwanda. He shared his deep love for the Lord in various places, including Mexico, Rwanda, Kenya, Congo, Tanzania, Ukraine, France, United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, UAE, India, Thailand, Republic of Georgia, Kazakhstan and Honduras. He faithfully served on the boards of McLane Children’s Advisory, OMF Mission (formerly China Inland Mission), Christian Discipleship Ministries (CDM), Pine Cove Christian Camps, African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries (ALARM), Church Leadership Development International (CLDI), City of Temple Civil Service Commissioner for the Fire and Police Departments, Leadership Temple, Links Players International, and participated in Leadership Temple and other community organizations. Nominated by his fellow graduates and former professors, Gary was honored with Dallas Theological Seminary’s 2018 Alumni Distinguished Service Award.
Even though Gary received numerous awards, his greatest passion was ministering to his family, friends and flock. He loved, served and protected his bride, Bev, and together they lived every day to the fullest, counting each day as a gift from God. Words cannot describe what an amazing father he was. His children knew they were his great treasure by his affirmation and kindness in modeling the Heavenly Father. He was lovingly known as “Pappadeaux” to his grandchildren and many other children in his life. He valued people of all ages and backgrounds and had an amazing ability to make everyone feel like they were his “best friend”.
He loved sharing about the God he loved so dearly. He did this weekly on Sunday mornings at Temple Bible Church for 38 years, the 6:30 AM men’s Thursday bible study and with the multitude of young men he discipled. While he diligently taught biblical truth, he was also humble and genuine, sharing his joys and sorrows with his beloved flock.
Gary was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer, ocular melanoma, in 2013. Through his battle with this vicious disease, with Bev at his side, he continued to live as an example of faith, hope, love, and perseverance. He continued to teach from the pulpit, last preaching on August 11, 2019, just two weeks before his heavenly homegoing. Gary fought valiantly to the end, inspiring many with hope of what is to come, and was surrounded in his final days by family, friends, and a cloud of witnesses praising the Lord for a life well-lived. Gary passed from this life to his heavenly home while rejoicing and praising God in worship on August 26, 2019. Gary saw the face of Jesus and it took his breath away. Love has healed him.
Gary is survived by his wife of 43 years, Beverly Hough DeSalvo, their children Sarah DeSalvo Riggs (and husband Bill Riggs), and Daniel Joseph DeSalvo (and wife Michelle DeSalvo), and their six grandchildren: Hudson and Jackson Riggs (12), Greyson Riggs (10), Emerson Riggs (8), Kase DeSalvo (7), and Iver Gary DeSalvo (4). He is also survived by his father, Frank DeSalvo and his new bride Pamela Bland DeSalvo (Mama Pam), sisters Paula DeSalvo Hollier (and husband Robbie Hollier) and Joy DeSalvo Sibley, and many precious nieces and nephews, and their children. Gary is preceded in death by his beloved Momma, Esther DeSalvo, with whom he is now reunited in Heaven.
Gary leaves a far-reaching, powerful legacy, which will impact this world for generations. His memory will be cherished and he will be dearly missed, but not without hope, by all of those who love him, until we meet him again.
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Habakkuk 3:17-18
Celebrating the Life of Pastor Gary
Join us as we praise God for the life of Pastor Gary DeSalvo and the many ways he pointed us to Jesus. The memorial celebration will be on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Temple Bible Church. Doors will open at 1 p.m. Please make plans to carpool with friends or family to help with parking.
Visitation will take place on Friday evening from 6-8 p.m. in the Temple Bible Church auditorium and all are welcome.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Temple Bible Church. A portion of your donation will go towards the various ministries and global outreaches that Gary passionately supported.
Scanio-Harper Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.