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Obituaries | Gary Richard Salisbury | Kingman Daily Miner

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Golden Valley resident and entertainment director Gary Salisbury dies

Gary Richard Salisbury

August 4, 1943 October 23, 2021

Gary Richard Salisbury, former director of entertainment at Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif., And one of the creators of his legendary Halloween Haunt, died on October 23 after a six-month illness. He is survived by his beloved daughter Cheryl Meyers (Jack); grandsons Garrett and Chase; and sister Diane.

Gary was born to Richard and Lorraine Salisbury on August 4, 1943 in Los Angeles, California. The family moved from California to Highland Park, Illinois in 1958. Gary graduated from Highland Park High School and attended the University of Illinois. He began a career in law enforcement at the age of 22, when he was hired by the Rolling Meadows, Illinois Police Department. As a police officer, Gary received several accolades and made headlines when he gave birth to the first of the twins as the first responder on the scene.

But Gary’s true calling came at the age of 26 when he returned to California. He was hired at Knotts Berry Farm as a gold digger in the Pan for Gold exhibit. It was the start of a 19-year career in the theme park that led him to become Manager of Entertainment. During his tenure at Knotts, Gary was instrumental in creating some of the park’s most iconic events. He helped develop Knotts’ first stunt program, writing the scripts and performing in numerous stunts that featured Wild West shootouts, saloon brawls, and heists. Gary was also a part of the creative team for the first Halloween Haunt, the largest and longest-running event of its kind. After finding out that his 18-year-old daughter frequented teen dance clubs in Hollywood, he proposed to Knotts to start his own teen club. Studio K was born and has grown Knotts’ teenage traffic by 200,000 per year.

After leaving Knotts, Gary continued his career in entertainment, focusing on large-scale special events first in Southern California, then in Laughlin, Nevada and Kingman, Arizona.

Gary had resided in Golden Valley, Arizona for 30 years, and recently moved to Colorado to be closer to his daughter. Gary will be remembered as a mentor, a devoted father, and someone who never had a boring day at the office.

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