Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Obituary - ROBERT E. L. TALLEY


Robert Talley passed away on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, at Florida Hospital – Orlando. He was 85 years old. Mr. Talley was born on July 2, 1929, at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, to the late Benjamin and Grace Lattner Talley.

In 1942, his parents sent him to Northwestern Military School on Lake Geneva where he developed his love of sailing. While at the school he participated in the band. The following year he was enrolled in Castle Heights Military School where he learned to fly—his second love. At age 16, he got his first sailboat and flew solo.

Following graduation he moved to Beverly Hills, where he worked as a copy boy for The Citizen News. He wrote a first-person account of a fire at the big race trace, which was his first big break and earned him one of many first place awards. He left the paper and enrolled at Oklahoma University’s School of Journalism. He joined ROTC, received a West Point commission and decided to make the Army his career.

Mr. Talley was trained in Field Artillery and guided missiles (the Niki Ajax), and was sent to Germany and Viet Nam. He then became a foreign specialist, and learned Arabic at the Language School in Monterey.

In 1968, he was stationed in Beirut and earned his master’s degree at the American University, writing the first history of Beirut. He also made his first trip to Israel and was amazed at how friendly the people were.

Back in the U.S., he took airborne training and was sent to Viet Nam. While there he wrote the first training manual for officers coming to the region.

Upon his return, he went to General Staff College and was sent to MacDill Air Force base in Tampa. In 1974, he became the military attache at the Saudi Arabian embassy. During his military career he was awarded two Legion of Merit medals and a Bronze Star in addition to other honors.

Mr. Talley retired to Tampa and lived aboard his sailboat—a lifelong dream. In 1981, he married Holly Anne and they traveled to Mexico, Texas and back to Florida, living aboard the boat for the next 10 years.

He began his second career as a professional guardian and taught computer science in Ft. Myers. There he purchased a cloth covered Tripacer airplane. He flew it to California and Alaska and received his instrument rating.

Being diagnosed with heart and cancer problems in 2005, he had to give up his pilot’s license. He and Holly Anne moved to Sarasota and started to attend Beth Sholom, where Mr. Talley became a Jew by Choice. He felt his Judaism was not only a religion, but a way of life. He and Holly Anne had a Jewish wedding ceremony at Beth Sholom.

In October 2013, again in search of better doctors and be nearer to family, they moved to Winter Springs and joined Congregation Ohev Shalom and Temple Israel.

Mr. Talley is survived by his wife, Holly Anne; sons, Steven (Judith), Branch, Krist, Mark, Quinn and Seth (Joy) Malter; daughters, River Stillwood and Merryl Malter; seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Funeral services for Robert E.L. Talley were held in the chapel at Beth Shalom Memorial Chapel with Rabbi Joshua Neely officiating. Interment followed at Florida National Cemetery with full military honors. Funeral arrangements entrusted to Beth Shalom Memorial Chapel, 640 Lee Road, Orlando 32810.


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