Robert Morrell Talley

Date of Birth

March 13, 1924

Date of Death

September 11, 2017

Robert Morrell Talley passed away peacefully on September 11 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. True to the person he was, Bob handled the challenges of his condition with grace and acceptance, keeping his optimism and humor throughout. At the time of his passing, he was home and in the company of the two women he loved most; his “wonderful wife” of 69 years, Susie Talley and his “darling daughter” Carol Talley.

Bob was born on March 13, 1924 to Robert Taylor Talley and Laura (Morrell) Talley in Erwin, Tenn. It was in Erwin that he met the love of his life, Susie Williams, whom he married in 1948. He went to the University of South Carolina, Cornell University and the University of Tennessee (UT) as part of the NROTC and served as the skipper of a mine sweeper in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He got his PhD in Physics & Mathematics from UT. He and Susie moved to Silver Spring, MD where he worked for the U.S. Naval Ordinance Laboratories specializing in infrared detectors. His daughter and son were born there.

In 1958, Bob moved himself and his family to Santa Barbara where he took the position of Director of Research and Development with a fledgling aerospace company, Santa Barbara Research Center (SBRC). As the company grew, he became Vice President and ultimately, President. By this time, SBRC was the largest private employer in Santa Barbara county. Bob was very well liked and highly respected by all those he worked with. During his time at SBRC and after his retirement, Bob was involved in a number of organizations including: Santa Barbara County Education Office: Computers for Families, UCSB Foundation, Industry & Education Council, SBCC Continuing Education Advisory Council, UCSB Engineering Advisory Committee and Santa Barbara Industrial Association. He had a strong interest in supporting education, particularly the study of science, and started a scholarship fund for promising undergraduate students in the Physics departments of both UT and UCSB.

Bob enjoyed traveling and he and Susie visited many countries around the world. He was a great fan of parties and was fortunate to have a wide circle of friends in Santa Barbara. He was an avid golfer and loved card games. Even as his memory was failing, Bob remained a wicked bridge player, seldom loosing a game. He was interested in genealogy and travelled around the US and Europe tracing his and Susie’s family roots. He loved wine, particularly Pinot Noir from Talley Vineyards (try as he might, he could not find a family connection) and delighted in bi-weekly picnics under the redwoods of Stow Grove Park with his wine tasting group. Even after he had to give up wine, he treasured the friendships and eagerly anticipated each meeting. He was a big fan of college basketball, attending games of the Lady Gauchos at UCSB and watching The Lady Vols of UT and Duke’s men’s team on TV with Susie.

However; next to his family, Bob’s greatest love was fishing. Every weekend, he could be found sitting in his boat at Lake Cachuma or fly fishing in the Sierras or, his favorite, trolling in his boat in the Santa Barbara channel, enjoying the view of the city and coastline he loved. Catching fish was merely a bonus.

Bob was a man of great kindness, and showed it to with all who knew him. He was also well known for his humor and, in spite of his many accomplishments, his modesty. He was greatly loved by his friends and family. He is survived by his wife Susie Talley of Santa Barbara, CA and children David Talley (wife Patricia Behan) of Raleigh, NC and Carol Talley (partner Mark Viney) of Santa Barbara, CA, and grandson Max Wiedmann of Long Beach, CA and granddaughter Eva Wiedmann of Denver, CO plus a number of nephews and nieces.

He was predeceased by his parents, his brother Dayton, an infant sister and his grandson, Benjamin Wiedmann.

A funeral service at The First United Methodist Church will be held on Monday, September 18 at 11 am. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation, Dr. Robert M. Talley Scholarship.

The family would like to provide a special thank you to Dr. Michael Bernstein of Sansum Clinic for his care of Dad over many years; DASH of Santa Barbara, Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care of Santa Barbara for their acute and end of life care; and especially his skilled and compassionate home aides for their wonderful care given Bob over these last 5 years.


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