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We improve public health and population health practice to support healthier communities
Remembering our Colleague and Friend, Donald Salley

Date: 11/27/2013 9:51 AM

Related Categories: Inside PHF

Topic: PHF News

Tag: Inside PHF

Author: Ron Bialek

On this Thanksgiving and beginning of the holiday season, while our PHF family continues to mourn the loss of Donald Salley, I am reminded of all we have to be thankful for having known and worked with Donald. Donald was a part of the PHF family for more than 14 years and diligently served our organization as the Executive Assistant until his retirement this past September.


Donald is still with all of us at the Public Health Foundation. He has been a friend and colleague and leaves behind many pleasant memories. Each time I walk by Donald’s office, I still see his smile (and sometimes even a little smirk), and can picture others in his office looking for a “quick fix” of Donald comfort. When I would tell Donald what he meant to me and to our PHF family, his response simply was a humble smile and shrug. He was being Donald.


The real story about Donald at PHF is that his unassuming presence, his good humor, his dedication and commitment to what we do, and his visible pleasure in seeing us succeed, gave all of us comfort, support, and real joy in what we do. His presence also gave us strength. Even during the toughest of times, Donald could manage a smile and a laugh, giving of himself in a way that said without words, “it’ll be alright.” 


Knowing how giving Donald has always been, this year our staff is proud to begin an annual tradition, the Donald Salley Day of Service, at PHF. Giving back to the community is something that Donald cared very much about, and we believe Donald would have wanted us to do as a lasting tribute in his name. 

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Your comments and remembrances of Donald are welcome today and anytime.


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Margie Beaudry


Always a smile, always a sweet in the candy dish for the passerby. Always a twinkle in the eye, like he had a secret he way aching to tell, if you could just tickle it out of him. Quiet wisdom and steadiness no matter how rocky the way. A peaceful, gentle soul full of song (and a freakishly good bowling game to boot). In his company, my hard edges softened and my frazzled head grew more thoughtful. I miss him.

Antoinette Barber


Mr. D - my friend, my confidante, and my brother - not a day goes by without me thinking about you. There is a palpable void at PHF. You kept the office running smoothly, and you kept all of us in line. The week after you retired, I think the copier broke down AND the phone system went out! There have been so many other things that have gone awry, but somehow, we are adjusting. We are managing, and we are creating a new normal. Because that’s what we have to do, right? However, your leadership (yes, leadership) is missed – your unassuming ability to inspire and motivate us to be our best. It goes without saying that I miss you tremendously, but I hold dear to all of our times together at work and at play. Whenever I listen to a Teena Marie or Stevie Wonder song, I will hear YOUR voice, and whenever I attend the theater, I will see YOUR smile. I’m bummed that we won’t be able to see Motown the Musical together, but I’ll be sure to get in a dance for you! Thank you for who you were to me and to so many others. You were a wonderful man with a rich legacy of kindness, patience, peace, joy, and LOVE. And after all - isn’t that how you measure the life of a man? You are gone but still so present, and my buddy – I will see you when I get to the other side.

Lois Banks


Donald Joseph Salley, or “Mr. D,” as he was sometimes called, was an integral part of the tapestry of the Public Health Foundation (PHF). From ordering supplies to handling the logistics for the PHF Board of Directors meetings, Donald loved his job, but most of all, he loved the people with which he worked. This was evident by his way of making people smile while he was yet alive; and weep in the days and weeks after his death. Donald was a man of strength…how else would he have been able to go through the various bouts of cancer without complaining? Even in his pain, he would smile and say, “Well, I don’t feel half bad.” And during those times when he had been unable to sleep the night before, Donald would still garner up the strength to come to work because he knew that there were those waiting to see his infectious smile, to admire his fashionable clothing, and to draw from his strength. Mr. D was a man of integrity, and whatever he said that he would do, you could count on it! He possessed a quiet demeanor, but when he spoke…people listened. I guess he was a little like E.F. Hutton in this respect.  Donald was a man who exemplified kindness, yet looking for nothing in return. He always remembered and acknowledged my birthday, Mother’s Day, and Christmas, and sent me a card on these occasions. This year was the first time I didn’t receive a birthday card from Donald, but of course I’m not angry with him as he’s probably a little preoccupied these days enjoying his retirement in the homeland of the soul. I miss Donald, for to know him – was to love him. And when you really LOVE somebody, you have to be willing to let them go…but never to forget them. I will never forget Donald! As a matter of fact, before he passed away, we made plans to meet at the corner of Wemadeit Street and Over Boulevard. And even though we did not establish the date and time of our meeting, I can count on Donald being there just like he said he would.

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