Former Crimson Tide player turns 100 in Bay Minette


Dr. Donald J. Salls Jr. once wrote a book about the keys to living to 100. Last month he celebrated the milestone in grand style.

Salls is the oldest living University of Alabama football letterman. Salls attended UA and played football from 1938-1941. Following his time at UA, Salls served in World War II as an Army officer, earning a Purple Heart and Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster.

After the war Salls was named head coach at Jacksonville State University from 1946 to 1952 and again from 1954 to 1964. Salls, who compiled the most wins in JSU history (95-57-11), won three bowl games and seven conference titles during his coaching career.

His 1947 team led the nation in rushing defense, allowing only 494 yards for the season, a Gamecock record still on the books some 40 years later. The 1955 team finished 10-1-0 and won the Refrigerator Bowl in Evansville, Indiana, defeating a powerful Rhode Island team.

In addition to the Refrigerator Bowl win, Salls’ teams played in three Paper Bowl games in Pensacola, Florida, winning twice.

Salls produced nine Little All-America players. Jacksonville State named the athletic dormitory “Salls Hall” in 1966.

He holds a Ph.D. in physical education and nutrition from New York University. In the 1960s and 70s he was well known as he toured the nation to teach Isometric exercises.

Salls was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1992 and authored the book “Live and Love to Be 100” in 1995.

He now resides at the William F. Green Veterans Home in Bay Minette where staff members threw a party in his honor.

Salls will speak at The Page and Palette in Fairhope on July 27 from 3 – 5 p.m. Tickets are available on