Honoring Albert Talley, Sr.

  • UPDATE (Sept. 25, 2017): Come celebrate the naming of Albert Talley High School on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 5-7 PM at 7800 South 132nd Street, Seattle (current site of the Secondary Learning Center). Ceremony at 5:30 PM, tours of the school from 6-7 PM.

    Renton School Board voted in June to rename the Secondary Learning Center, Albert Talley, Sr. High School in honor of longtime School Board member, and community stalwart, Al Talley, who passed away suddenly in March. Mr. Talley is a Renton institution: For decades he served children, families and all of the Renton community, guiding school district policy, hiring superintendents, and serving the district’s nearly 16,000 students and families.


    Renton School Board member, and celebrated local institution, Albert Talley, Sr., passes away

    March 30, 2017—With great sadness Renton School District announces the passing of long-time Renton School Board member Albert Talley, Sr. His impact on local education has been appreciated for decades. His guidance, involvement, and love of life will be missed by many throughout the region.

    Mr. Talley is a Renton institution. For decades, he has served children, families and all of the Renton School District (and Renton community) in his role as School Board Director. Mr. Tally has been a Renton School Board member, including Board President, for more than 16 years, guiding school district policy, hiring superintendents, and serving the district’s nearly 16,000 students and families. Parents and community members trust Mr. Talley to represent and serve the children of the district: In each of his elections for School Board, Mr. Talley was elected with more than 98% of the public vote.
    Al Talley quote

    Mr. Talley’s service to the community went well beyond the school district. He was active in Renton Rotary, including serving meals to families, providing warm winter coats for children and teens, providing free children’s dictionaries, and more; he was Chairman of the Board of the Renton Chamber of Commerce; he was a mentor for children through the Communities in Schools Renton program; served as chairman of the City of Renton’s Human Rights Commission; he stayed active as president of the Puget Sound Senior Softball Association; coached a Renton women’s softball team; and was involved in so many other ways throughout the region.

    In 2005, Mr. Talley was named Renton Citizen of the Year, formally recognizing his contributions that helped to nurture the soul and sense of community in Renton through his selfless acts of generosity and volunteerism.

    Mr. Talley is survived by his wife of 62 years, Candis; their four children Debra, Albert Jr., Michael and Susan; along with many family members.

    A public memorial services was held for Mr. Talley: Visitation was Wednesday, April 5, 5-8 p.m. at Greenwood Cemetery, 350 Monroe Ave. NE, Renton; public memorial was Saturday, April 8, 1-3 p.m. at Renton High IKEA Performing Arts Center, at Renton High School, 400 South 2nd Street, Renton.

    A bit of Al Talley history

    Born in South Carolina, Mr. Talley was one of eight children raised by his widowed father, who was a day laborer. From the age of 10, Mr. Talley worked in a diner; at 16 he enlisted in the Army, to send much-needed money home. In the military he learned, and later taught, air defense missile operations and maintenance.

    After more than two decades of military service—including stations in Korea, Germany and Texas—Mr. Talley and his family began a new life in Renton. To start, Mr. Talley spent his days as an electronics instructor at North Seattle Community College and his nights as a custodian for the Shoreline School District.

    Later, while working as a manager for Xerox, he noticed that too many motivated men were turned away from jobs because they lacked certain skills. So he developed a side business in building maintenance, and started the Alcan Building Maintenance, and began hiring hard-working people who needed the extra money. He continued to manage that very successful business till today.

    Al Talley’s personal commitment to children of the district

    Mr. Talley’s love, commitment, and big heart was felt by children throughout the district, including those he personally mentored through the Communities In Schools of Renton. He is a board member for the organization and has been a children’s mentor with for two decades, since the start of the Mentor Program in 1997. In that time he mentored 17 students. Always going above and beyond the call: A mentor is only required to meet with one student for an hour each week; for many of his 20 years as a mentor, Mr. Talley had three or four students that he was meeting with one-on-one each week. Mr. Talley met with one student for over 10 years and another student for nearly 8 years.

    One of the children was Matthew Bray, who Mr. Talley mentored from elementary school through graduation. The relationship was instrumental in helping Matthew stay committed to school, and motivated to stay with it through graduation. Matthew said of Mr. Talley, “it’s [his] easy way of being that made me trust him from the start. [He has a] good heart, good listener, good way of talking.” 

    Mr. Talley also found it easy to list Matt’s finest features, from his honesty to his keenness of mind. “It does not feel like some big contribution to the community,” Mr. Talley said, “to help this boy grow.”

    Their story was highlighted in this Seattle Times story that ran in April, 2007. Mr. Talley’s mentoring work was also highlighted as a “National Mentoring All-Star” in 2011 by TakePart, a national mentoring partnership.

    Mr. Talley was also committed to teachers and classrooms instruction

    Mr. Talley often visited classrooms in schools throughout the district to see for himself how well the district education system was working for students and staff. “I try to get a better feel from listening and observing what the students go through, and what the teachers go through,” Mr. Talley said.

    To show his appreciation for the work, Mr. Talley came up with the idea of “appreciation patrols.” After enlisting local business owners and Renton City Councilmen King Parker and Don Persson to help him, every few weeks Mr. Talley would hand-make cakes and cookies, and the three men would visit schools, handing out goodies and praise at staff meetings.

    In a questionnaire given to Mr. Talley, he was asked: What are your expectations regarding the time required to be on the School Board? Al Talley answer in his customary simple and direct manner: “Whatever it takes to do the best job possible.”