Al Talley Sr., longtime Renton School Board member, mentor and ‘Renton icon,’ dies

Albert Talley Sr., a longtime Renton community leader, died at Harborview Medical Center after a stroke.

Albert Talley Sr. was a dedicated Renton School Board member until the day he died. At noon March 27, he spoke with the Renton Chamber of Commerce about the city’s students. That night, he had a stroke.

Mr. Talley, who also held a number of other leadership and volunteer jobs in Renton, died two days later at Harborview Medical Center. He was 82.

Damien Pattenaude, superintendent-elect of the Renton School District, said that at the chamber meeting, Mr. Talley spoke about the need for fully funding education in Washington state.

“He was still pressing on, on those last days of his life,” said Pattenaude, who is also Mr. Talley’s nephew.

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Mr. Talley had been a member of the Renton School Board for nearly 17 years. He was a staunch advocate for students, colleagues said. He mentored dozens of students and would sit in classrooms to get a better idea of their day-to-day experiences in schools.

At one point, Mr. Talley heard that teachers were feeling burned out, so he created “appreciation patrols,” with former Renton City Council member King Parker and City Councilman Don Persson.

The three would go to different schools and surprise staff members with food and praise for their work.

More than a decade later, the tradition continues. In early January, for example, the trio surprised Dimmitt Middle School teachers and staff with homemade cakes and cookies.

“He wasn’t about rhetoric; he was about taking action,” Pattenaude said. “Whether that was around, ‘Oh we need more mentors for kids,’ he was going to step in and do that. He wouldn’t take the credit for it; he thought if you did good work, you would be recognized for it.”

Mr. Talley stressed the importance of making sure every Renton student had opportunities, whether they were rich or poor. That motivation likely stemmed from his childhood in the segregated South, where he grew up in a family of eight children and a widowed father.

He enlisted in the Army when he was 16 and spent more than two decades in the military. He was stationed in Korea, Germany and Texas before settling in Renton, where his wife, Candis Talley, grew up.

He had also served as chairman of Renton’s Human Rights Commission and on the Chamber of Commerce board, and had been active with Renton Rotary and the Communities in Schools of Renton program, which works to prevent student dropouts. For his work in the city, he was named Renton’s 2005 Citizen of the Year.

Mayor Denis Law called Mr. Talley a “dedicated public servant whose passion for this city came through in everything he did.”

“He was a Renton icon and beloved by everyone in the community,” he said.

In addition to his community and government work, Mr. Talley started his own business,…

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