Calendar celebrates the philosophy of a JSU legend and his wife
by Brett Buckner
Special to The Star
Dec 01, 2012 | 3353 views |  0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Don Salls and his wife, Diane, collaborated to create an inspirational photo calendar. Don Salls coached the JSU Gamecocks to seven conference titles on the way to 95 wins, making him the winningest coach in JSU football history. Photo: Submitted photo
Don Salls and his wife, Diane, collaborated to create an inspirational photo calendar. Don Salls coached the JSU Gamecocks to seven conference titles on the way to 95 wins, making him the winningest coach in JSU football history. Photo: Submitted photo
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While a picture may be worth a thousand words, when words and images work in harmony, the narrative impact can be tenfold.

Such is the aspiration of a calendar created by the husband and wife team of Don and Diane Salls. It’s a project in which she provided the breathtaking photographs to which he added simple, yet poignant phrases — some only a few words long — along with favorite Bible passages to create a devotional to serve as a daily reminder of God’s love and blessing.

“If I could touch somebody’s heart every day, what an awesome, awesome gift that would be,” Don Salls said from the couple’s home in Tuscaloosa. “And with this calendar, I believe that we can do that.”

Don Salls — or rather Dr. Donald J. Salls — is undoubtedly a familiar name to Jacksonville State University football fans, students and faculty. Over an 18-year career, Salls led the JSU Gamecocks to seven conference titles on the way to 95 wins, making him the winningest coach in JSU football history before retiring in 1964.

He holds the title of professor emeritus at JSU and is a member of the JSU Athletic Hall of Fame and The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

But Salls’ accomplishments didn’t end on the football field. In 1962, he pioneered a national program of isometric exercises which has been featured in newspapers and television shows across the nation.

In 1995, he wrote “Live and Love to Be 100,” which documented his personal advice for living a long and healthy life.

Today, Salls is 93 years old, and with this calendar is sharing his basic philosophy.

“Love life,” he said, after a little prompting from Diane. “Love your wife. Love the Lord.”

This mantra is brought to fruition in this calendar, which opens with ano-ther edict: “Unlock your mind and discover your long-life potential. You can reverse the aging process and live a more vital life.”

It’s a goal that speaks to the young and young-at-heart.

“I’m so proud to have been a part of this,” said Diane. “I thought it was just wonderful and knew that it would touch people’s lives and maybe, just maybe, save their souls.”

While Don Salls might be the more famous of the two, Diane deserves the credit for the calendar seeing the light of day.

Some 15 years ago, Don had a friend whom he loved very, very much, but who had taken the wrong path in his life, Diane explained. Don began compiling various inspirational phrases, devotionals and Bible verses with his friend in mind, serving as a daily reminder of the blessings that lie before him. When he completed the calendar, Don showed it to his friend.

“And I’m not going to repeat what he thought about it,” Don said, laughing.

Disappointed, Don stuck it a folder and forgot about it until years later when he stumbled across it and showed it to Diane.

“I was in awe of the written words,” she said.

However, Diane wasn’t especially impressed by the cover, which featured a heart design.

“How can I put this this?” she asked. “I’m not exactly a heart-type person. So I thought we could do something really beautiful using photographs.”

Many of Diane’s photographs were taken while she was riding a train through the Smoky Mountains with a church group.

Married for 25 years in February, Don and Diane are made to be together, much like this calendar — with its words and images — coming together.

Contact Brett Buckner at brettbuckner@ymail.com.

Buy a copy

Copies of the devotional calendar by Don and Diane Salls are available for $20 at Couch’s Jewelry Store, 15 E. 10th St., Anniston. All proceeds benefit the Knox Concert Series.
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