Andrew Otto Salava, 44, of Billings, died peacefully on May 8, 2020, at RiverStone Health Hospice House. Heaven gained another faithful servant; Andy is safe in the arms of Jesus.
Andy was born on March 17, 1976, in Crystal Lake, Illinois, to Glenn and April Salava. Andy was raised there with his younger brother Matt. Andy’s love for the outdoors started as a child. It was common for him to ride his bike to Crystal Lake, where he swam, played ice hockey and fished year-round. Andy also had a blast playing the trumpet in the school band during junior high and high school. He graduated from Crystal Lake South High School in 1994. Andy later moved to Colorado for a job opportunity, but everyone wondered if it was to be near his love, Christie; they were married in 2000.
Almost a decade later, Andy moved to Montana. The Nye Community Church quickly became a special place where Andy often served behind the scenes. Andy also joined a small team from the church to travel to Ghana, Africa, to serve for two weeks with Sowers International. During that time, Andy developed a connection with Paul and Bev Lindley. Andy soon saw Paul not only as his Pastor, but as family; Paul’s wife Bev “adopted” Andy on that trip. Paul and Bev quickly became another set of parents to Andy. Later on, that bond carried to Christie and their children.
Andy considered himself a jack of all trades and master of none. Andy’s interests could be narrowed down to IT and cooking, but numbers stood out the most. For fun, Andy would oftentimes be found running numbers in his head. While serving at Beartooth Christian Camp; Andy found that accounting was the career he wanted to pursue. It is never easy to go back to school as an adult while supporting a wife and two small children, but Andy chose to take on the challenge. Andy succeeded in studying hard while putting his family first. In late 2017, after over three years of study, Andy graduated summa cum laude from MSU Billings with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with an Emphasis in Accounting.
While still in school, Andy was hired by Mountain Commercial Specialists, Inc. as a Premium Auditor. This position was right within his skill set. Andy drove to businesses throughout Montana to perform audits while officing at home. Andy’s new career led the family to Billings in 2018, where they quickly made the community their home. Elevation Church soon became like family. Andy didn’t hesitate to jump in to serve as the Safety Team Coordinator.
After a sudden eyesight change, Andy was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Brain Cancer on Oct. 15, 2019. Andy fought the cancer with an unwavering positive attitude and he refused to give up the fight, even to the end.
Andy’s love of people was evident by the way he served others. He greeted many with his contagious smile and laughed as his eyes mischievously sparkled while teasing the closest target. Andy and Christie made a great team; many of their jobs were near each other. Best friends, first and foremost, Andy put a lifetime of love into Christie’s heart. Aside from marrying Christie, Andy’s greatest and proudest accomplishment was becoming a father. When Ben and Emma came along, Andy’s world lit up. Andy enjoyed being outdoors, going on long drives and taking his family on “adventures,” which usually involved going out for ice cream. Andy’s passion for cooking continued as he enjoyed making breakfast for his children every Saturday morning. Andy’s faith in God never wavered and it was important to him to live by example as he tirelessly served his family. Andy will forever be in our hearts and will never be far from our thoughts.
Andy is survived by his wife, Christie (Bennett) Salava, of almost 20 years; son Bennett Andrew Salava and daughter Emma Lynn Salava; mother April (Gratz) Salava; brother Matthew Salava, grandmother Irene (Ott) Elftmann; uncles Terry (Erica Dobreff) Gratz, Owen Salava and Luke (Alissa) Salava; aunts Joy Gratz and Cheryl Walker; as well as the Mudd Lindley family who adopted Andy through love.
Andy was predeceased by babies who left too soon: Taylor Lynn Salava, Jayden Lee Salava, Christian December Salava and Carter James Salava; nephew Gabriel Anton Salava; father Glenn Salava; grandfathers Albert Elftmann and Otto Salava; grandparents Ernest and Aimee (Hansen) Gratz; and great-grandparents Anton and Marie (Vrsek) Salava.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to:
Sowers International at https://www.sowersinternational.org/component/jdonation/where-most-needed
RiverStone Health Hospice House at https://riverstonehealth.org/our-organization/foundation/online-donation/
A Celebration of Life service will be at 2 p.m. (Mountain Time) Saturday, May 16, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson Ave. The service will be available to view via livestream at https://www.facebook.com/events/2587270584853254/.
To view the livestream, visit https://www.facebook.com/michelottisawyers/ on the Saturday, May 16th at 2PM and click on the event titled “Celebrating the Life of Andy Salava.”
The livestream will start 5 to 10 minutes before the service begins.