JEFFREY MATTHEW SALES

JEFFREY MATTHEW SALES

1974 – 2022

A brave, dedicated, humble hero

Written by RaeAnn Christensen
(Edited by The Précis)

The heart of an American hero just couldn’t take it anymore. Jeffrey Matthew Sales—a beloved husband, father, and former Army Combat Medic who took his last breath in the same COVID unit where he had been working tirelessly as a nurse to save lives—died of the virus and heart failure, on January 21st, 2022, at Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, FL.

He was just 47.

Diagnosed at age 22 with a hole in his heart that doctors repaired with a metal valve, Jeff was keenly aware and cautious throughout his medical career. Years later, that same valve failed, ravaged by a sudden case of COVID.

Said Jeff’s son Brayden Sales: “They did everything they could; they had the whole hospital working on him. We couldn’t have asked for a better medical staff.” The staff loved him, Brayden said, and spent as much time with his dad as his family.

“If you want it, work for it.”

Jeff and James, BFF.

Jeffrey was welcomed into the world, on November 16, 1974, by Richard Dee Sales, a Civilian Mechanic for the military after he retired from the Navy, and Linda Marie Kruger Sales. One of two sons, Jeff was born at the New London Naval Submarine Base in Groton, CT. A blue-collar family with a rigorous work ethic, the Sales soon moved to Bountiful, Utah, where the boys grew up with the idea that “If you want it, you work for it; nothing is given to you.”

James, Shawn and Jeff.

When Richard remarried, his wife D.J. bore Shawn, they moved to California.

Jeff and his older brother James were inseparable. Because “r’s” were difficult for young James to pronounce, he called his brother Jeff-wy. Jeff-wy would be his little bro’s name from then on. But boys will be boys, and one was always trying to outdo the other, especially when it came to wrestling. If your last name was Sales, competitiveness was in your nature. But no matter who won or lost, James and Jeff-wy remained best friends.

Jeff attended Viewmont High School in Bountiful, where he lettered in varsity wrestling, his brother on the same team. With his eye on a medical career, Jeff placed fifth in the HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) Nationals. He also played the guitar, loved to fish, camp, bowl, and attend concerts. When older, both boys also worked as welders for their stepfather, John Jensen.

Jeff-wy became Doc Sales

It came as no surprise when Jeff, coming from a military family, enlisted in the US Army right out of high school, his aim to become a Combat Medic and serve in the Korean War. While stationed at Fort Bliss in Texas for training, he acquired an official second nickname: Jeff-wy became Doc Sales, this one sticking throughout his life.

Following his first tour in Korea, back home in Utah, Jeff went to a party at his best friend Ernie’s apartment. His life changed forever when he locked eyes with a petite, ginger-haired beauty.

On April 6, 1996, Jeff married the love of his life, Chanda Christensen, barely 20 years old, Jeff just 21. Many voiced concerns about this young love. But that didn’t stop these two from tying the knot in a big, beautiful, Western-themed ceremony attended by their many friends and family. Jeff’s emotions got the best of him, and he cried throughout the ceremony. More on Jeff’s emotions later.

Open-heart surgery and a medical discharge

While serving his second tour in Korea, Jeff contracted Rheumatic fever, which disintegrated one of his heart valves. Open-heart surgery, performed in El Paso, required placing a metal valve in his heart. A medical discharge from the Army resulted, disappointing Jeff beyond words.

But there was light in the middle of the darkness when his Chanda rushed to El Paso to be near her husband. “Watching him on a ventilator and struggle to get off it was really hard,” she said. The couple flew back to their tiny townhouse in Layton, where Jeff—unable to lie in a bed due to his surgical scar tissue—had to sleep in the rocking chair.

Chanda would sleep on the couch next to him so she could be there if he needed anything. Meeka, their cat, sat on the arm of Jeff’s chair and was his company when Chanda had to return to work. Meeka learned to love cheese and yogurt because Jeff shared his favorites with her.

He ticked like a clock

Meeka loved Jeff & cheese.

The honeymoon phase was more of Chanda being her husband’s bedside nurse. Jeff, who now ticked like a clock with his metal heart valve, was on the mend. Chanda had to adjust to that ticking, but that sound soon became her lifeline to soothing her to sleep.

Welcoming Brayden.

Jeff’s service to his country didn’t stop with the military. Wanting to continue his love of helping people, he entered Weber State University to pursue a nursing career. Yes, as Jeff would say “Men can be nurses too.” After getting his RN, he returned to his hometown of Bountiful to work for Lakeview Hospital, as well as Rocky Mountain Medical Center.

Soon Chanda and Jeff would buy their own home in Layton, Utah, and welcome their first child. Brayden James Sales was born on September 29, 1999. And, oops, they did it again. On February 2, 2002, Austin Dean Sales was born. Chanda and Jeff’s world soon revolved around their two boys.

Asher arrived!

Whether soccer, baseball, football, or wrestling, the Sales boys were playing it. One parent sat in the bleachers, the other, well you all know that one dad screaming on the sidelines? That was Jeff. Embarrassing at first, but eventually, the kids liked the supportive dad rooting for the whole team, not just his kids. He was their biggest cheerleader.

Their American dream

Chanda and Jeff would eventually live their American dream, building a beautiful house in West Point, Utah. But something gnawed at Chanda. With a house full of boys, she wanted a girl. On September 2, 2007, the most beautiful, intelligent girl enlightened their lives. Jasmine Charlotte Sales, who rarely slept because she was constantly learning and the best pouter you’d ever seen, had her parents wrapped around her fingers.

But wait, we can’t have Jasmine growing up alone, the other kids are so much older. Their “grumpy, little old man,” Asher Jeffrey Sales, graced them with his presence June 7, 2010, and so began “The Littles”, as Jeff called his brood.

Jeff and Chanda with The Littles and big kids.

Jeff, who had been disgustingly good in school and had the highest ACT score anyone had ever heard of, decided to enter Weber State University to get his Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN). Thus, he became the first in his family to earn a four-year degree, and he did it while raising a family and working at Lakeview Hospital for more than 16 years.

But the Sales had another dream, moving to Florida, Jeff determined to make it happen. During the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, after decades of living in Utah, they packed up and headed for sunnier skies. Jeff couldn’t have been prouder. His family had found their paradise. It took no time at all before gloating Florida pictures popped up on your feed. Especially annoying for those in Utah digging out of snow.

Assigned the COVID Unit

Jeff began as a Clinical Nurse Coordinator at Blake Medical Center. With the pandemic in full force, he was assigned to work in the Covid unit. Knowing his health issues could become complicated if he were to contract the virus, Jeff never hesitated. Extra hours, extra patients, more shifts, he signed up for it all. He wanted to help as many people as humanly possible.

When he did have free time, he was at the beach, watching a sunset with Chanda, fishing with Brayden, playing Pokémon and swimming with The Littles, or Face Timing with Austin. Family and friends took advantage of the Sales’ paradise by visiting often. Jeff’s gloating worked; we all wanted to go to Florida.

With Roxy, Jeff’s shadow.

At 5-feet-10 and 180lbs, he loved his beard and patriotic tattoos. On any given weekend, you could find Jeff on his lanai, wearing his wolf shirts, gold rings, and flip-flops, grilling on the barbecue, his Pomeranian close by. Jeff LOVED barbecuing.

If there was a Bronco game on, watch out. No don’t call the police, there was not a domestic dispute, it’s just Jeff watching football. This introverted man, not so introverted during football games, yelled at the TV loud enough for the refs to hear him.

Mushy, gushy romances

Want to watch TV? Just don’t do it without Jeff. Chanda and Jeff loved watching TV together. If Jeff happened to be working, he got mad if Chanda got ahead in shows. She would try to find something he might not like, a mushy, gushy romance maybe? Nope, Jeff liked those too; it was a constant battle.

It “threw up” Christmas at the Sales house!

Jeff was always right even when he was wrong. But he was rarely wrong. Annoying we can all be, and Jeff liked to repeat a funny line in a movie after everyone had just heard it. Due to his ultra-competitive nature and desire to be the best, he wasn’t much fun to play games with. Well, actually he was. In Escape Rooms, you might have well just have paid for Jeff to do it (he was so smart he could finish them on his own, no one else got to play) and maybe Brayden (like father, like son).

Holidays were a big to-do in the Sales’ home. In the words of Chanda, it “threw up” Christmas at her house. Jeff loved the holiday and made sure everyone in his family did too. If there are skilled gift wrappers, Jeff was one, and he loved wrapping. He would even volunteer to do it for other people, like Chanda’s mom. But Christmas meant that he had to have his special peanut butter pie made for him. Before Chanda, it was his mom Linda and brother James who always found this “annoying.” Jeff and James gave each other the same White Elephant Gift every year, and we would like to know what it was.

A grown man crying

If you happened to be at the theater that one night they were showing The Game Plan with The Rock or maybe Jerry McGuire, you probably heard or saw a grown man crying, and maybe one or two of his family members laughing at him.

The simple response from Jeff: “What? It’s sad,” he would say, shrugging his shoulders.

Bowling with Brayden.

Jeff wasn’t all about the chick flicks, however. His brother James can attest that he had seen Vision Quest at least fifty times and that Rocky IV and the first Red Dawn were some of their favorites. Movies always a favorite pastime, Jeff would take his kids to see movies like Star Wars and The Avengers. You can’t even imagine the amount of popcorn they went through, refills usually happening before the movie even started.

Thanks to James, we now know that Jeff loved listening to Michael Jackson. We can only hope they are on the other side jamming to Man in the Mirror.

Before kids got them busy, Chanda and Jeff fancied country dancing. There wasn’t a given weekend you wouldn’t see them line-dancing and country swinging. All the girls swooned when Jeff would launch into the Reggae Cowboy.

“…and that” and Mr. Fix It

Oh “and that.” We must talk about “and that.” You know those people who use “like, or um?” Jeff’s was “and that.” He said it at least every other sentence. He even has his in-laws saying it now.

Mr. Fix It to the rescue. Jeff never hesitated to help his mother or sister-in-law if they needed something fixed or installed around the house, and he never complained. It was always “I’m happy to do it and help.”

A champion for Veterans, LGBTQ, healthcare workers, and most importantly his children’s activities, Jeff never asked for anything for himself and always put his family, co-workers, and patients first.

On January 21, 2022, as Jeff was nearing the end of his shift, a co-worker commented he didn’t look well. Jeff eventually tested positive for Covid-19; his blood pressure was low, and his heart rate was skyrocketing. The staff he had worked with for the last two years, did everything they could to try to save him. Ultimately, the man who gave so much to so many, just couldn’t fight anymore. And the heart of this hero stopped ticking.

Jeff’s son Austin said his dad tested positive for COVID-19 at six in the morning and died just after six the very same night.

“We were all talking to him that morning, and it just all went downhill extremely fast,” he said. He added that his dad was always smiling and optimistic, even though working on a COVID-19 unit was stressful.

Jeff’s former coworkers at Bountiful’s Lakeview Hospital with MountainStar Healthcare were heartbroken with the news of his sudden passing. His former boss, Melissa Kass, described Jeff as “the epitome of a team player.” She recalled Jeff always being willing to pick up any extra slack if it meant helping his coworkers and patients.

He relished his role as dad

Jeffrey Matthew Sales is survived by his soul mate and the love of his life for more than 25 years, Chanda Sales. He relished in the role of dad to four amazing children, Brayden, Austin (Madison), Jasmine, and Asher Sales all living in Bradenton, Florida.

He is also survived by his mother, Linda Chugg, of Garland, Utah; two brothers, James (Katie) Sales of Farr West, UT, and Shawn Sales, of Bradenton, FL; his grandmother, Marian Sales of Sacramento, CA. His second family, who thought of him as their own, his father/mother-in-law, Charlotte (Dennis) Ogg, sister-in-law, RaeAnn Christensen, brothers-in-law, Dustin (Amie) Ogg, Colton Ogg, father/mother-in-law Ray (Ruth) Christensen.

He will be greatly missed by many uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, coworkers, and patients.

Jeff is being welcomed back by his father, Richard Dee Sales, 2018, and his grandfathers, Charles Kruger, 2016, and Herbert Sales, 2012, and grandmothers Vivian Kruger, 1985, Beth Christensen Widdison, 2020.

Roxy!

We are sure he’s getting lots of love from his favorite cat CJ (who he wasn’t supposed to have in the barracks but trained to hide when someone knocked) and his little shadow, Roxy the Pomeranian, who recently passed.

That heart ticking next to her

Chanda will greatly miss the sound of that heart ticking next to her, one she thought she’d hear as they grew old together. She will miss the Cokes or lemonades Jeff always made special trips to get her on his way home from work. She will miss the daily kisses on the forehead, and hearing “I love you” in the nightly texts goodnight. She will miss receiving her favorite candies when she’s having a difficult day. There wasn’t a time that Jeff didn’t make her feel loved.

In the words of his best friend and brother James, Jeff-wy was “a humble hero to those who knew him yet would not seek his own glory but the glories of his children.”

A celebration of life will be held at 2 PM on February 19, 2022, at the Veterans of Foreign Affairs (VFW), 907 W 12th St. Ogden UT 84404. To honor Jeff, we ask that everyone wear masks. KN95 masks will be provided, thanks to PuraVita Medical (https://www.puravita.com) in Lindon, Utah. This is what he would want to keep his friends and family safe while celebrating him. He gave his life to the very virus he was trying to help others with. If you have adamant beliefs or medical reasons not to wear a mask, we will be streaming the event live on Jeff’s Facebook page.

Instead of flowers, we know Jeff would appreciate donations to his family’s GoFundMe, https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-family-of-jeff-sales-covid-nurse-veteran or donations be made to VFW, the gracious host of this event.

 

7 thoughts on “JEFFREY MATTHEW SALES

  1. RaeAnn says:

    Thank you for the opportunity to have such an amazing tribute to Jeff. He would appreciate all the time and support you put into this for him. I know his family is very appreciative.

  2. Kathi B says:

    Such a wonderful tribute to Jeff.. He is an inspiration to us all! He is the epitome of what this world needs now and I am so sorry that God took him from his family and friends. But god only takes the best! My deepest sympathy and prayers to you all.

  3. Eric Collier says:

    I was very fortunate to get to serve this great nation with Jeff in the early 1990’s. Jeff was America’s young man, always ahead of his peers, walking the line, being a true teammate. Jeff was a Medic you could count on when times were tough, he knew his craft and looks like he went on to master it as a nurse.

    His smile and friendship will never be forgotten, he will forever in my mind be the young 20 something that answered the call when so few would. He will always be the man that answered when America called.

    May he rest in peace.

  4. James Sales says:

    Six Minutes

    Six minutes, three periods of two minutes each grouped together to create one match. For some those six minutes fly by in an instant, for others (the ones in the zone) it lasts a lifetime and so much can be accomplished in these six minutes. When I look back at Jeff’s six minutes, I think of two words that start off every wonderful memory I have of him; “Can I”?……………. Can I come with you? Can I ask you for a favor? Can I get your advice on this? And of course, for everyone here it would be Can I help you?

    Can I come with you? As the older brother, I heard this all the time growing up, not until I was much older did, I realize how special those words would be. Jeff and I were born in Groton, Connecticut on the New London Naval Submarine Base our father was stationed there and so that’s where we got our start, born into the Navy I guess you would say. Like I said, our father was in the Navy, both our grandfathers were in the Navy and our Great Grandfather was a Marine; not only did this start us down the path of patriotism but taught us all the cuss words one would ever need. As a young child Jeff lived in different places, obviously first we started in Ct but moved to Utah after our parents’ divorce. We spent our summers in California and most of the year in Utah after that. Jeff lived in Bountiful to start and finished growing up in West Bountiful; I believe he felt as I do that, that area was our hometown. He attended Meadowbrook Elementary to start and moved to West Bountiful Elementary in the middle of the 2nd grade. He attended Bountiful Jr. High and then on to Viewmont High School. It’s here, in West Bountiful, that he made his lifelong friends. Ernie Youngberg and Jason Cleverly have been his ride-or-die friends since the beginning, they are family to us as I know that Jeff is family to them. Can I come with you brings up memories of them allowing me to tag along on their adventures although I might have been doing the driving it was they that were on the adventure. I have a reminder on my forehead of the time that Jeff, Jason and I went fishing at East Canyon during the winter and during a snowball fight I slipped and fell and put my face through the window of the car. I was the only one who could drive so Jeff tried to stop the bleeding while I drove, ultimately Jeff had to finish driving because I couldn’t see. We had adventures of fishing or camping, high school football games, and of course wrestling. Once, I remember buying tickets to go to a concert I wanted to see and as I was about to purchase them, I heard those words, “Can I come too”? We had to buy an extra ticket anyway for someone to take us cause I couldn’t drive yet, but I’ll never forget seeing Alabama with Jeff and Chuck. A couple of years later, he tagged along on a date of mine to see the Judds, and back then a little-known dude named Garth Brooks who was the opening act. He had a love for music that he shared with others when he would play his guitar. He took it up at the beginning of High School and by the time he was a Senior he and his friends would play small gatherings for fun. There is a song that I know, that from the first time I heard it reminded me of Jeff. Here’s a small excerpt of it: Was he real or make-believe or someone to deceive? That time is just a folly we can’t see, You only know one song, play it right or wrong, Cause the truth is always something in between, You and I, we can’t change the weather and we’re all in this together so let the strong wind blow. Oh now things will be much better If you don’t become a prisoner to the reason you should know, You are what you are, you dream what you dream Play on your blue guitar for me. Play me a serenade, a lover’s masquerade Play on your blue guitar for me.
    Can I serve? Jeff joined the Army right out of High School with a dream of working in Medicine. He had taken classes during school and was an EMT already before he headed off for Basic Training. Here he became a medic and would forge new friendships with Army buddies, find the love of his life, and find the passion for taking care of others that would shape his destiny. “Doc Sales” his new moniker as medics are known would stay with him for the rest of his life to his buddies. For me personally, my heroes have always been the Medics, Corpsmen, and PJ’s of the armed forces. Jeff being my biggest Hero of all. While my dream was to go and serve in a different path, Jeff’s was to go and serve as a lifesaver and someone who would serve other soldiers and enemy alike. While trained with the rifle and other weapons Medics go into combat with their trauma kits and a handgun. Looking at his picture here in uniform reminds me of the time I asked about the grenade expert badge, I said how many grenades must you get into a target to qualify for one of those and he tells me none, you just have to throw one. I can laugh at that one, but I know he deserves all those and ten more fold for his work for his country and fellow man. Every December we would exchange text jabs back and forth on who would win the annual Army-Navy game. Some years I secretly rooted for his team to get a win so he could feel good, I hope that going forward his kids might send me those texts if Army eeks out a victory.
    Can I ask you for a favor? Late summer ’95 I get a call from Texas from Jeff and it’s quick and to the point because back in the day long-distance calls were pricey. Jeff says he’d like to know if his girlfriend’s parents can be invited to my wedding. I’m like sure have you gotta reason or do you just want them to meet the family and see how cool we are? He says if it’s alright he’s got like a special announcement and a particular song from the DJ and if they could be there. You betcha buddy, this should be good. The day comes and I will share a funny story about earlier in the day.. He and I are back in the rear of the cathedral of St. Marks before the wedding ceremony that day we’re both a little nervous and we see a TV. He’s like Notre Dame game is on, so there we are in the back and the priest is looking for us cause its time to start and we’re hiding in the back so we could catch a glimpse of the game, in comes the priest and now all three of us are watching the Irish make a drive. Needless to say the wedding started late. Later that day Jeff asked his soulmate Chanda Christensen to be his bride and would share the next 25 and a half years loving her more and more every day. The following April they were wed and they had a whirlwind hurried up honeymoon and then back to serving our country he went. Next year comes with it big surprises, He is rushed home to Texas where he will have his aortic valve changed out at 22 years of age, after a bit he gets to come home to Utah for some time to recuperate before going back to Fort Bliss for his eventual medical discharge from the Army. While later came another Can I ask you for a favor? Jeff calls me and says would you be Brayden’s Godfather along with Raeann as his Godmother. This time I’m floored because not only had he one-upped me by making Brayden’s middle name James as my son, James Matthew is named after Jeff, but asking me for such an honor. This was one of the happiest memories I have since the picture shows I have more hair than Brayden. It has been my honor and always will be my honor to look after all four of my brother’s children if they ever need anything.
    Can I get your advice on this? I hope I am not the only one who would call Jeff and ask for guidance with a medical question only for him to say, “Go see the doctor”. I would ask his advice on those sorts of things and he would text me and ask fix-it questions. My favorite one was, think I can cut my hot tub into small enough pieces it will fit in the garbage can? I said it would take forever to get rid of it in the can but it sounds easy enough to get it out of the yard, he says Ok can I borrow your Sawzall?
    Can I share about my kids? While I have never heard him say those words I have heard him share the love, admiration, pride, and enjoyment of his family. I have experienced his love of my children and the other children in our family and always included my children in something we doing as a family whether we were camping or on trips to California. He would send me the kids schedules for their activities as I would for my own sometimes and I have seen many a ball game and a few wrestling matches of his kids. It’s even louder when both Sales boys are yelling at a wrestling match.
    Can I help You? This one would be remembered by all who were blessed to have interacted with him. I even remember walking into the ICU when our father was in the hospital, his heart surgery scar still covered in bandages and he asked the staff Can I help you with anything? I imagine all the times he offered help to anyone who needed something done or needed a helping hand in any way. I would often run into friends who said Jeff was their nurse after surgery or cared for their parents while in the hospital and it was always the same response, your brother is so dang nice, he’s the best nurse up there. His brotherly love was everybody and you really had to do something very wrong to have his ill will aimed at you.
    These are just some of the things I remember about Jeff’s six minutes in life. I believe his six minutes were up way too soon, but he lived every minute to the fullest and had fulfilled his vision of having a loving wife and family that he cherished so much. I will miss you buddy and love you forever. “It ain’t the six minutes – it’s what happens in that six minutes.”
    “But all I ever settled for is that we’re born to live and then to die, and – we got to do it alone, each in his own way. And I guess that’s why we got to love those people who deserve it like’s there’s no tomorrow. “Cause when you get right down to it; there isn’t.” —Louden Swain, Vision Quest

  5. Julie says:

    I worked with Jeff at Lakeview Hospital. He was intelligent and very kind. He will be missed. Sending love to his family and friends.

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