Jafar “Jeff” Rahim Salehi
February 12, 1947 – June 22, 2022
On June 21st Jeff Salehi had a perfect day full of his favorite things – sunshine, fruit, and playing with his grandson. On June 22nd he unexpectedly woke up in heaven and those that knew and loved him will forever miss him and his bright light and contagious smile. He will always be one of the most inspiring, loving, generous, and loyal men to live, and to try to sum up his life in a few short paragraphs would not only be impossible but inadequate. So here are just a few highlights.
Born in Iran in 1947 he was the middle of five children to Aghdas and Ali Salehi. Smart, mischievous, ambitious, and selfless from the beginning of his life, his family knew he was always destined for great things. At the moment summer started he would run to his grandparents farm on the Caspian Sea and would have to be drug back at the end of the season. He loved taking care of them, learning how to grow anything and everything, and being in nature. Upon graduating high school he had a one way ticket to America, one bag, and big dreams. Arriving at JFK Airport, not speaking any English, he followed the pretty girl that directed him and his fellow passengers where to get on their bus and immediately forgot his luggage. While it didn’t seem like it at first, he would define what the “American Dream” is all about.
That bus drove him to the University of Kansas where he would learn English and the American way. To earn extra money on the weekends, he and his friends would drive to Washington D.C. to deliver newspapers at the Watergate Hotel and advocate in their spare time. After graduating from KU he set his sights on the oil business, going first to Texarkana and then Odessa College, where he would fall in love with the industry and people here in West Texas. He went on to Texas Tech to finish his degree, as well as a Masters in Mechanical Engineering. He met the love of his life, DeeAnn McAlpine there, and they were married shortly after. They would move all over the oil fields, from Enid, Oklahoma to San Angelo, Texas before finally settling in her hometown of Midland.
His oil career is expansive and inspiring, starting work at Cholla as a wireline engineer to being one of the most prominent operators in West Texas. As those that knew him saw everyday, his work ethic and mind were unmatched, and while some often thought him crazy, and make no mistake – he was, it always turned out for the best. After Cholla, Jeff went to work as an engineer for Endeavor where he enjoyed building the company up with his friend and mentor, Autry Stephens. In 1998 Jeff started his own oil company, Scythian LTD, where he was successful in his passion for petroleum engineering. He throughly enjoyed his work and never had plans to retire that passion.
In 1985 his only child, Cameron, was born and she became the center of his world, until 2018 when his grandson, Cyrus arrived. Jeff was a phenomenal father and grandfather, always doing anything for his family and putting their happiness and well being above all else. In 2013 when his wife DeeAnn was diagnosed with dementia Jeff sought out every possible doctor and treatment for her. When ultimately she had to move to The Vogel Center at Manor Park he became a permanent fixture there as well. Always going above and beyond, he never wavered in his loyalty or dedication as these were traits that were second nature to him.
His sudden passing has left an unfillable hole in our hearts and world. He loved his life and wanted the same of everyone around him. He believed in generosity more than anything else and it became a cornerstone in his life. He often told others that God will bless you the more generous you are, and it was one of his opinions that no one could disagree with. Always remembering others kindness and his own humble beginnings, he never sought or wanted praise. Despite this, he was finally convinced to accept Philanthropist of the Year in November of 2021, only doing so so that others would follow suit and give generously to our community.
Jeff was rarely without a smile. Always personable, he had the gift of making people laugh in any situation. In hard times his go to sayings were, “That’s life” with a big shrug, or what he too often had to remind his daughter of, “Let it go”. Somehow these simple phrases were always made more impactful with his Persian accent. But that is what he was, impactful. He was a leader and mentor to so many and his legacy will live on for generations to come.
His greatest passion and most beloved home, was his ranch in Harper, Texas where he grew everything he could and tended vines to make wine, all the things his grandfather had taught him when he was young.
Jeff is survived by his wife, DeeAnn, his daughter and son-in-law, Cameron and Winston Kelly, his two grandchildren, Cyrus Kelly and Rosemary Salehi Kelly, born one week after his untimely departure, relatives from all over the world and countless friends that are family. He was greeted at heavens gates by his parents, family, friends, and a fishing rod.
From the way he dressed to the way he lived his life, everything was impeccable and we will miss his wit, love of family and friends, and impossible standards every day.
The family will receive guests on July 14th from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM at the Branch at Nalley-Pickle & Welch. A celebration of his life will be held July 15th at 11:00 AM at First Presbyterian Church with a reception to follow at the Racquet Club. His final resting place will be at his beautiful and beloved ranch in the Hill Country. In lieu of flowers please make donations to The Vogel Center at Manor Park or the Midland Memorial Foundation.
Arrangements are under the direction of Nalley-Pickle & Welch Funeral Home & Crematory in Midland. Online condolences may be made at www.npwelch.com.
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