Michael L. Sala, DMD

Michael L. Sala, DMD (Mike) transitioned to the next phase of his eternal journey on Wednesday, June 2, 2022. Mike was born on November 11, 1946, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Reno to parents John and Chetty Sala.

Mike attended Mary S. Doten Elementary School, Central Junior High, and Reno High School where he was an outstanding student and athlete. In 2016 he was inducted into the Reno High School Sports Hall of Fame. As an athlete, he was an integral part of two large school state championship teams. In the spring of 1963, Reno High won the basketball state championship when Mike was a junior. In the fall of 1963, Mike who was then a senior, tasted another state championship when the undefeated Reno Huskies football team beat the Western High Warriors. After high school, Mike attended the University of Nevada where he continued his athletic career in both football and baseball. He became a member of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity and was a student leader on campus. It was during these formative years that Mike made numerous friendships that continue to exist to this day. During college, he spent a summer as a Congressional Intern in Washington, D.C. for Senator Alan Bible. It was during this same summer that Mike had a tryout with the Philadelphia Phillies Rookies. Also, it is worthy to note that Mike was 1st team All-Far Western Conference as a linebacker and the only player from the conference to be invited to play in the East-West Shrine Game.

Upon completion of his undergraduate work at Nevada he entered dental school at the University of Louisville where he secured his DMD degree. After a stint as a dentist in the U.S. Army, Mike returned to Reno where he started a dental practice in 1974 that continues to this day. Sala Family Dentistry is operated by his sons Jason and Todd, also graduates of the University of Louisville. Mike was very proud of the dental legacy that he built and even more proud of his sons, who witnessed first-hand his hard work and grit. It was during dental school that Mike met his wife, Mary Anne. Mary Anne came from a dental family and met him while she was working at the dental school as a dental assistant. He was immediately attracted by her southern charm. A courtship ensued and they were married on January 20, 1973. Mary Anne has been by his side as a loving partner and companion from that date forward, truly a beautiful marriage.

In retirement and before, Mike and Mary Anne were avid travelers and were blessed to be able to travel all over the world. They particularly enjoyed going to Italy and the Florida Keys with friends and family. In the most recent years, Mike liked to join his friends of old at a weekly lunch get-together.

Mike was generous to his friends and community. Focus, diligence, integrity, positivity, professionalism, and gratitude were watchwords of his persona. He lived life to the fullest and was passionately engaged in all of the things he and Mary Anne loved. Not a day at work passed that Mike did not thank his employees for their dedication and service. He was truly a humble man.

Mike retired in 2005 passing the torch to his sons after working together for 5 years. He was very proud of the success and generosity that they had brought to the practice and northern Nevada community. Working together with his sons was indescribably meaningful to Mike.

Mike’s grandkids called him Poppy. They related fond memories of him making them “poppy corn” and mocktails during happy hour, playing games of pool, chasing them around the pool table, going out to lunch in a quest to find the best hamburger, and taking them fishing in Florida with the “Poppy Fishing Pole.” The family spent many happy times riding their Ranger at their Graegle retreat.

Mike is survived by his wife Mary Anne, his sons Jason (Lynsey) and Todd (Tara), and 5 grandchildren (Luke, Addison, Sawyer, Colin, and Gwen) as well as his sister Michele and brother-in-law Woody Barry and brothers-in-law Scott and Mark Whitaker. He was predeceased by his parents and in-laws, Dr. Rodney and June Whitaker, and brother-in-law, Dr. Rod Whitaker, Junior.

The family would like to acknowledge the kind caretakers during his memory care journey.

As per Mike’s wishes, there will be no funeral service. The family will have a private celebration of life at a later date. They have asked that in lieu of flowers you consider a donation to the John Sala Memorial Endowment at the University of Nevada, Reno. The address to follow for that donation is: University of Nevada Foundation, Mail Stop 0162, Reno, NV 89557.


  1. Mike McPherson June 7, 2022 at 4:40 pm

    Mike will be greatly missed. I started going to Mike in 1976 and I’m still going to Sala Dentistry today. He was an exceptional man who pioneered a great family tradition through his sons.

  2. Timothy Robson June 7, 2022 at 5:10 pm

    My deepest sympathy 🙏. Mike was a true gentleman and individual. May the Sala family be comforted in their grief through remembrances of his special presence. Thank you for the posted email.

    The Robson family

  3. Connie Knoll June 7, 2022 at 5:11 pm

    So sorry for your loss. I know how it feels to lose someone close to you. I lost my husband 2/18. I pray for God’s arms of comfort be wrapped around you and your families. May God bless! Connie Knoll

  4. Lisa Thomas June 7, 2022 at 6:04 pm

    Dear Drs. Todd & Jason. I am so sorry to read of your loss. Your dad was my first dentist when I moved to Reno in 1990. I actually remember both of you hanging around the 7th street office as I continued to see Dr. Mike during the 1990s. I look forward to many more years with the Sala Dentistry Family! Both of you, and your families, are in my thoughts.

  5. Amy Carothers June 7, 2022 at 6:24 pm

    I’m sorry for your loss. I believe your Dad was either working a lot less or just retired. That’s almost 15 years or so. I remember thinking it was pretty cool the both of you followed in your Dad’s and family profession.
    His legacy and you’re continuing growth of the practice has been a wonderful place for my family to come to. Thank you, Amy

  6. Henry W. Cavallera June 7, 2022 at 6:41 pm

    Sometimes the family’s hand reaches out beyond their own. Mike, our community is a better place because your parents, you , and your family have been in it.

  7. Banmali S. Rawat June 8, 2022 at 1:10 pm

    It was really shocking to hear this sad news about our favorite Dr. Mike Sala. When we moved to Reno in 1988 from Grand Forks, ND, our Dentist in Fargo recommended us to see Dr. Mike. We always liked his smiling face and very soft spoken nature. He was such a generous person that once my brother-in-law an international graduate student at UNR badly wanted to see a dentist but did not have insurance, Mike came forward to help him without any fee. I always used to ask Dr. Jason about wellbeing of Dr. Mike Sala after his retirement. I am glad that Drs. Janson and Todd are continuing the legacy of their Dad by serving our community.

  8. Ervin Horton June 8, 2022 at 8:00 pm

    I am not the worlds greatest writer but will do my best and don’t know how to increase the size of fonts.! I only got the pleasure of meeting Mike and his wife at one of the tail gating parties at a football games and was impressed and hope he got to read my Lifes Story before he passed to enjoy it! I never had the opportunity of having Mike as a dentist but have heard many of great comments of him.

    My condolences go out to the whole Sala Family Dentistry and sure God will have a place for him in heaven! I am thankful for Todd keeping me posted ON the health of his dad. I am sure Todd and Jason will cary on the Dentistry!!

  9. Robin Morgan June 9, 2022 at 5:45 pm

    Sorry for your loss. I have been seeing Dr Josh for a few years and enjoy his professionalism with Sala Dentistry. I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Dr Mike or his son’s but I will continue on with the Sala family.

  10. Jim Richardson June 13, 2022 at 7:37 am

    I started going to Mike’s dental practice many decades ago and always enjoyed chats we had when I went in for a check-up or dental work. He was a great guy and I especially appreciated his contributions to UNR, particularly its athletic programs where he did his best to make sure the athletes had proper dental care. I and my wife Cynthia have continued to frequent the Sala Family Dentistry and love the warm welcome we also receive from the sons and the rest of the staff. We wish the family the best during this trying time.

  11. DeeDee & Don Jensen June 14, 2022 at 8:05 am

    Our deepest sympathy for the loss of such a great man! The world was a better place with Mike and his presence will certainly be missed but he will never be forgotten. He is no longer by your side but forever in your heart . Wishing you comfort and peace in this time of sadness.

  12. Rick Costa June 27, 2022 at 5:00 pm

    Dr. Mike was an incredible individual that inspired many of us in areas well beyond dentistry. He was the man we wished we could be, the husband and father that we aspired to and the friend that we were lucky to know. He was also patient beyond humanly possible and allowed his entire office staff, Anita, Donna, Mary (and me) to hold my mothers hand during all of her routine dental procedures. I will continue to appreciate and experience Mike through my contact with his incredible sons, Jason and Todd. Both of which posses his humor, compassion, skill and remarkable style. I believe for the majority of his life, it was good to be Mike Sala. I know he is now resting in peace.

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