John Sanchez

June 1954- January 12, 2009

John A. Sanchez, III passed away on Monday, January 12, 2009, at the age of 54. John was the beloved son of Mary O. Soell and John A. Sanchez, Jr. He was the half-brother of Walter Sanchez, William Sanchez, Christopher Sanchez, Leigh Sanchez Redman, Jerry Soell, Dawn Lala, and Tammy Blackwell. John was also survived by his nieces and nephews. 

John A. Sanchez, III was born the son of John A. Sanchez, Jr. and Mary O. Soell in 1955. John’s parents were never married. Shortly after John’s birth, his father attended college at Tulane University in New Orleans. While at Tulane, John’s father met a young girl attending school at Loyola New Orleans who would later become the mother of John’s half-siblings. John was raised by his mother Mary in St. Bernard for most of his early childhood. While he lived with his mother Mary, John would visit his father and other siblings about four times a year during school breaks and holidays. Then when John was in eighth grade he moved in with his father and siblings in Kenner. John lived in Kenner for about one year before moving back with his mother. During this time he and his half-brother Walter Sanchez grew very close. 

John received a high school diploma, but he never went on to get a college education. John appreciated beauty and fine dining. He spent most of his adult life working at various high-end bars and restaurants in the French Quarter. John absolutely loved the French Quarter and would spend most of his time there either working or enjoying the upbeat life in the area. One of the many reasons John loved working in the French Quarter was because it gave him the opportunity to interact with people who came to visit from all over the world. One of the many people he met in the Quarter was a woman politician from West Virginia whom John wound up being married to for about five years. Unfortunately, John did not have much luck with relationships and was in and out of several marriages throughout his lifetime. 

When Hurricane Katrina hit in the fall of 2005, John was one of the individuals who chose to remain in his home during the storm instead of evacuating. After the record storm devastated New Orleans, John was stranded in his house for about six days with his house flooded in several feet of water. During this time his brother Walter Sanchez put out several ads trying to get in contact with John. After days of being stranded, John was able to get a hold of an old motorcycle. A police officer was able to help John get enough gas in the motorcycle to get him across the bridge and leave New Orleans. During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, John stayed with his brother Walter in St. Bernard. However, this was only for a short time because John insisted on getting back to New Orleans as soon as possible. His brother Walter recalls that John was one of the first people back in his beloved French Quarter to volunteer after Hurricane Katrina. John helped with rebuilding and handing out donations to members of the community. 

John’s death was one of three deaths within three months that took place in Orleans Parish Prison that year. It resulted in the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Louisiana calling on OPP Sheriff Marlin Gusman to conduct better medical screening in connection with the intake of prisoners, in light of the deaths that had occurred at Orleans Parish Prison in those early weeks of 2009. The then Executive Director of the ACLU Louisiana, Marjorie R. Esman, spoke in regard to the deaths by stating that “unfortunately, many people in custody of Orleans Parish Prison have serious health conditions that are untreated… This results in deaths that could be prevented with better medical attention.” 

Author: Katherine Ranero