John Neil Minichino Sr., age 72, beloved husband of Suzanne, passed away June 11, 2018 at home surrounded by family in Sandy, Utah. John fought a valiant 25 year battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
John was born on October 18, 1945, to George and Marie Jean (DiPasquale) Minichino. John grew up in a predominantly Italian-American neighborhood in South Philadelphia. Mass, Catholic school, serving as an altar boy, Boy Scouts, authentic Italian food, and delivering newspapers were staples of his childhood. Back before anyone knew what Jersey Shore meant, John spent his childhood summers with extended family in Ocean City, New Jersey.
He graduated from Bishop John Neuman High School in 1963. He took advantage of the GI Bill and earned a degree in Russian from Syracuse University. The United States Air Force assigned John to be a cryptologist intercepting Russian conversations aboard a C-130 during the Cold War. The daring cryptologists who flew dangerous missions on the brink of enemy territory were known as the Prop Wash Gang and lived by the mantra Freedom Through Vigilance.
In 1972, John hired on as a Special Agent with ATF in Philadelphia. Born with the gift of gab and refined on the streets of Philadelphia, John had the ability to convince criminals that he was their friend. In an undercover capacity, they agreed to sell him illegal silencers, machineguns, short-barrel weapons, or take a job as a supposed hitman. One defendant paid him a great compliment by saying that his undercover work deserved an Academy Award. While off duty for an undercover assignment in Pittsburgh, John met his future wife, Suzanne. John worked on several high profile cases including the Unabomber bombing at the University of Utah and MOVE (first John Africa federal case) in Philadelphia.
With his degree and experience in Russian, John was detailed from ATF over to the Secret Service for several of the US-USSR peace talks. In this capacity, John was honored to meet President Ronald Reagan in 1988 and President George H.W. Bush in 1990. When the peace talks were hosted in Moscow, his family was astonished to receive a call from John while he was inside the Kremlin.
John retired from ATF in February 1997 as the Resident Agent in Charge for Utah. He received numerous professional awards. Shortly after retiring from ATF, John began his second career as a criminal justice instructor at Salt Lake Community College.
John loved living in the American West and lived the last 28 years of his life in Sandy, Utah. John still held one allegiance to Philadelphia, he would purchase cannolis from Termini Brothers Bakery and have them shipped on ice to Utah.
John is survived by his wife of 45 years Suzanne; sons John (Daché) Minichino Jr, Michael (Jenny) Minichino; daughter Tiffany (Rawl) Wharton; sister Rosemarie Druch; nephew Leon Druch; seven grandchildren; numerous extended family members, and cherished pets.
John will be remembered as a loving husband, selfless father, doting grandfather, loyal friend, man of integrity, and true American patriot.
The family would like to thank the following medical professionals: Dr. Barclay Bigelow, Dr. Gregory Litton, Dr. Kent DiFiore, Dr. Martha Glenn, many dedicated nurses, and the staff of Millcreek Hospice.
A celebration of his life will be held on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 from 6:00 - 8:00 PM at Starks Funeral Parlor, 3651 South 900 East. Guests are encouraged to use the complimentary valet parking on the north side of the building. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Wednesday, June 20, 2018 at 11:00 AM at St. Ambrose Catholic Church, 2315 East Redondo, Salt Lake City. Interment to follow at Larkin Sunset Gardens, 1950 East Dimple Dell Road 10600 South, Sandy.