After a fulfilling career traveling the globe with his beloved Delta Airlines, David Larry Salter, age 79, took his final flight on Wednesday, October 6, 2021, with the destination of heaven, following an extended battle with Parkinson’s Disease.
A resident of Newnan, David is survived by his wife of 36 years, Charlene King Salter, and their two children: daughter Emily Salter, of Newnan, and son Matthew Salter and his wife Tina, of Roswell, sister-in-law Joy Salter of Columbia, South Carolina, and adoptive family and neighbors David and Tammy Bragg and their son Collin.
David was born on August 9, 1942, in Memphis, Tenn., one of three sons of Ben F. Salter and Bernice Floy Kennemer Salter. He grew up there, attending Central High School and Memphis State University and working briefly for Delta, loading and unloading planes, before joining the U.S. Army.
During his tour of duty with the Army, from 1963 until 1967, he worked alongside Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents on the Civil Rights marches in Memphis. David returned to Delta after his Army duty and, in 1974, transferred to Atlanta where Delta was opening its new corporate security office. His intelligence experience during his military service earned him a spot in the new organization, where he worked until his retirement in 1994 after a 32-year career with Delta.
As a security expert for Delta – a job he loved – David helped open hubs for the expanding airline around the globe by ensuring proper security facilities and processes were in place, as well as investigating pilots and crashes, most notably Flight 191 in 1985 and Flight 1141 in 1988, both at the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport.
David and his bride-to-be Charlene met at the Lithonia apartment complex where they both lived. Charlene and her parents needed help moving a new mattress into her apartment, and David was handy to help. Delta had a role in the match, too, because Charlene’s mom had spotted and often commented on a car in the complex lot with a Delta sticker on it and wondered whose car it was. When David and Charlene began seeing one another and he attended the family’s Thanksgiving, the mystery was solved.
After a 1984 full of family and friends’ weddings and while they were attending one of them, David proposed. He said, “Well, everybody else is getting married so I guess we should, too!”
And, so they did – on April 20, 1985, at Glenwood Baptist Church in Decatur. David, a lifelong singer and choir member, serenaded his bride during their service with the song, “I Love Thee, Dear.” The newlyweds settled in Conyers, and David’s globetrotting for Delta continued. He called one day to tell her he was headed to Colombia, and she mistakenly thought he was going to South Carolina, where they had family, instead of the South American country.
Their family grew with the arrival of son Matthew in July of 1986 and daughter Emily in February of 1990.
Following his retirement from Delta, David dabbled in real estate and hardware retail sales before returning to corporate security as a contract employee for Delta Global Services and Harris Global Service.
Not fully appreciating the nature of corporate security, daughter Emily told people her dad was a security guard. She also recalls the security questionnaire David crafted for her boyfriends and the inquisition whenever she left the house: “Where will you be? When will you be back? How do I reach you?” He frequently would call her from his international destinations. One such call was: “Hello from Africa!”
Warm, generous and friendly, David made friends easily. When son Matthew worked as a cook at Tava’s Restaurant, David became known as Papa Salter and was called upon to offer the blessing at the annual holiday meals for the restaurant and staff.
The family moved to Newnan in 2006. In addition to his family, work and travel, David loved gardening, growing a variety of plants including forsythia on steroids – growing to almost 10 feet in girth! He generously shared cuttings with friends.
“He was an outdoor man and I was the indoor lady,” says Charlene. She recalls a major do-it-yourself project to completely replace their lawn with zoysia grass. It took four years as David patiently cut the sod into smaller squares and created a checkerboard to make the project more cost-effective.
When squirrels invaded his apple, peach and pear trees, he built a fence and then methodically added increased fortification with each subsequent invasion to prevent their access, finally setting up a camcorder to capture how exactly they were getting in. The family remembers David intently viewing two video tapes of the squirrels catapulting from a nearby fence over his fortifications and into the trees.
David’s love of singing ranged from hymns, jazz and classical music to Chicago and Led Zeppelin. He also enjoyed genealogy and invested hours in documenting the Salter family. He often “conned” Charlene, Matthew and Emily into going to the archives with him while he researched his family.
Other interests included fishing, camping and golf.
In 2011, the Salter family expanded again when David Bragg, also a Delta employee, and Tammy moved in next door. They bonded with Emily’s pet sitting and the arrival of their son Collin in February of 2015. The families grew even closer as the Salters babysat Collin while his parents worked. Collin often visited the Salter home, with or without his parents’ permission, to see Charlene “NeNe and David “Buddy” and became known as David Salter’s “Little Buddy” and honorary grandson. Emily was known as “Aunt E,” Matthew as “Matt” and his wife as “Aunt Tina.”
David was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in December of 2017. Charlene had always had to run to catch up with David when they were out and about, but then he started falling behind and began the Parkinson characteristic shuffling. Surgery for a pituitary tumor in 2018 accelerated his decline and the once active, vibrant man relied heavily on a walker to get around.
David was preceded in death by his brothers Edward Earl Salter and wife Dot, and Bill Taylor Salter.
David was cremated in accordance with his wishes.
A memorial service is planned for Saturday, October 16, 2021, at 2 p.m. at Hillcrest Chapel, Higgins Funeral Home, located at 1 Bullsboro Drive in Newnan. Rev. Terry Calhoun will preside. Visitation will be held at 1 p.m. until the funeral hour.
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