Santa Rosa County on behalf of the Salter family sadly announces the passing of former Commissioner Don Salter on the morning of Sunday, Aug. 20. Salter, 76, was a native of Santa Rosa County. First elected to the Santa Rosa County Board of Commission District 3 office in 2000 and re-elected in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016, Salter served as vice-chairman of the board in 2003-2004, 2008-2009, 2013-2014, and 2018-2019 and chairman in 2004-2005, 2009-2010, 2014-2015, and 2019-2020.
Salter graduated from Troy State University with a Master of Science degree in management. He proudly served his country as a United States Army Paratrooper from 1965 to 1968. His last 15 months in Vietnam were served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade as a combat platoon Sergeant where he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. Before becoming a commissioner, Salter worked for Gulf Power Company (now Florida Power and Light) and retired in 2000 after finishing a 32-year career with the company. His last 10 years, he was the Santa Rosa County District Manager, and was responsible for all company operations. Salter is married to Kaye (née Matlock). They have a son Donnie, a daughter-in-law Mandy, and two grandchildren Ethan and Evelyn.
Highly regarded and respected in the community, during his first eight years of office, Salter was instrumental in economic development, agriculture, military and veteran affairs. A few of Salter’s county accomplishments during his 20 years of service as the District 3 commissioner include:
- Founding the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Plaza and serving as chairman of the organization for many years.
- Working to provide two free homes for local disabled veterans and their families.
- Creating the Rural Protection Plan for the northern part of the county designed to protect the rural character, agricultural viability and natural resources of northern Santa Rosa County.
- Chairman of the Emerald Coast Honor Flight, Santa Rosa Initiative Committee and chairman of the Santa Rosa Military Advisory Council
- Working many years to protect and enhance military installations, especially NAS Whiting Field.
- Providing the vision and leadership to help purchase several thousand acres of land to prevent development encroachment around our military bases.
- The NAS Whiting Field encroachment prevention program is considered “The Navy Model.”
- Serving as chairman of the Santa Rosa County and Escambia County Base Realignment and Closure “BRAC” Committee for several years as well as serving on numerous military committees throughout the region.
- Leading the charter to bring Whiting Aviation Park to fruition.
- Helping move the building of the new courthouse forward.
- Enhancing recreational opportunities including construction of the Pace Community Center and playground in collaboration with the late District 1 Commissioner Jim Williamson and renovation of playgrounds at Chumuckla Community Center and Fidelis.
- Received many leadership awards and recognitions:
- Community Leader of the Year
- Santa Rosa County Hall of Fame
- Santa Rosa County Man of the Year
- Spirit of Santa Rosa, Business Leader of the Year
- Association of Defense Communities' Defense Community Award - Active Base Community Leader
- Friend of Agriculture
- Roadway leading into the new Whiting Aviation Park, which adjoins NAS Whiting Field, dedicated as Don Salter Boulevard
- Inducted into the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame
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