The enduring memory that many have of John Silva is of a guy singing and dancing.
It may have been while playing his guitar with a band or while hanging out with his many friends in a neighborhood bar. Patrick Harbison, one of Silva’s closest friends since the pair met at Christian Brothers High School more than 20 years ago, will hold onto a vision of Silva riding in a car, “the windows down and the radio blasting.”
Silva died suddenly on Sept. 4 at the age of 37. An autopsy will determine his cause of death.
Professionally, Silva will be remembered as a student of public finance. For about the past two years, he was the independent budget analyst for the city of Sacramento, tasked with examining City Hall’s annual spending plans and giving its elected officials advice. Before that, Silva was a senior budget analyst with the state Department of Finance.
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The City Council adjourned its meeting last week in Silva’s honor. Councilwoman Angelique Ashby recalled Silva’s enthusiastic personality as she displayed a photo taken of Silva on a recent spontaneous trip with friends to sample the food of Mexico City.
“He was so excited to be hired by the city of Sacramento,” Ashby said, noting Silva was a Sacramento native who wore purple ties the days of Kings games. “It’s so tragic to lose him so early.”
Silva grew up in Greenhaven and graduated from Christian Brothers in 1998. He would go on to lead the school’s alumni board and organize its annual wine tasting fundraiser multiple times, helping to raise $100,000 for tuition assistance in a single night.
His charitable work was extensive. He participated in WEAVE’s annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraiser five times and was a regular at events benefiting local nonprofit organizations.
Silva was a “Big Brother” for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Sacramento Area, mentoring the same young man the past eight years – among the longest Big Brother tenures in the local chapter’s history.
“John lit up the space in which he occupied, quickly becoming a favorite friend and respected confidant to many in the community that were blessed to meet him,” said Theresa Scherber, CEO of the local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter. “To John’s little brother, Matthew, John was truly everything.”
Silva had a way with people, regardless of age. Rick Pires, a fellow Christian Brothers alum, met Silva about a decade ago. They quickly became close friends – despite Pires’ 19-year age advantage.
“He always had time to help someone out,” Pires said. “Everyone called on him and he never said ‘no.’ And he always found time to make people feel special. In a lot of ways, John was my mentor.”
“You could always rely on him to be there,” added Harbison. “He was hilarious and charismatic and funny. And he always gave the best hugs.”
Silva was a UC Davis graduate. He loved his pets: his dogs Cheney and Maddux, and his cat, Walter. He was also “very proud of his Portuguese heritage,” said his wife, Samantha Pellon, and was thrilled when the couple visited Portugal in 2014, stopping in at the famed House of Sandeman port cellars.
A wake will be held for Silva at deVere’s Irish Pub on L Street in downtown Sacramento on Sept. 22 from 5 to 7 p.m. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. on Sept. 22 at East Lawn Elk Grove.
Silva is survived by Pellon, his parents, Donald and Debby Silva, his sister, Jennifer Silva, two nieces and a nephew.