'She had a heart of gold': Talley remembered for love of family, God, BV schools
The Berryville School District has lost one of its cornerstones.
Mary Talley, 57, of Berryville, died Friday, Aug. 10.
Talley was born on Nov, 7, 1960, in Eureka Calif. She married the love of her life, Steve Talley, on Nov. 11, 1978.
Talley was a member of the Church on the Hill in Berryville and was involved in many activities, which were always centered on relationships and helping people. She worked for 20 years in the Berryville School District as the administrative assistant for the superintendent. Talley’s love of God and family were of the utmost importance in her life. She enjoyed baking, gardening, farming, shopping and taking long walks.
Berryville Superintendent Owen Powell said Talley was known for being kind, generous and professional.
“If you talked to her for five minutes, you would know she was family-oriented,” he said. “You couldn’t have a conversation with her without her family coming up. Mary loved to talk about her husband, her children and her grandkids.”
Powell continued, “She was strong in her faith and beliefs. She had a heart of gold.”
He said filling Talley’s position at the superintendent’s office will be hard.
“She had 20 years’ experience,” Powell said, “and everyone who knew her loved her. It will be really hard to replace her. This is a tragic loss for our district. Mary will be greatly missed.”
Chad Hipps, president of the Berryville School Board, said replacing Talley will be a major task.
“I almost feel sorry for whoever does try to fill her shoes because they’re going to have some big shoes to fill,” he said. “That’s not our main focus right now. We want to mourn with the family and respect the family. They mean the world to me. Mourning with them and respecting them is our first obligation.”
Hipps said he was shocked by the news of Talley’s passing.
“I’m as shocked as everybody else. I literally can’t believe she’s gone,” he said. “I’m crushed for the family.”
Hipps said he knew Talley for a long time. He said her son and his brother-in-law grew up best friends in Berryville.
“They were kids in high school, and now they’re grown men with their own families,” he said. “I’ve known Mary for quite some time. She was the epitome of the Berryville school system. She loved the schools. Watching her kids grow up in the Berryville school system I know meant the world to her.”
Hipps said Talley had a huge love for three things: her family, her God and the Berryville School District.
“When you live a life like that, you really can’t ask for any better,” he said.
He described Talley as a problem-solver.
“There wasn’t a time when I called her with a problem or a question and she didn’t immediately know the answer to it,” he said, laughing. “If I had an issue, it was nothing, and she already handled it. I know the rest of the school board feels the same way.”
Hipps said he misses Talley already.
“I love her and hope she knows that. I’m sure she does,” he said. “With the kind of lady she is, she’s in a great, great place. I hope I don’t screw up this year as school board president because I know she’ll be watching.”
David Gilmore, principal of Eureka Springs High School, said he worked with Talley for several years at the Berryville School District.
“Mary was the rock of the school,” he said. “She had knowledge of just about every function and procedure for the entire district. She was always a very caring person that kept up with the personal lives of the district employees. She would always ask how your family was doing and keep them in her prayers. She will be deeply missed.”
Donnel Armstrong, principal of Berryville High School, said the community and school are mourning the loss of Talley.
“Mary was a true lady — kind, compassionate and very giving,” Armstrong said. “Her quick smile and love for others will forever be etched in our hearts and minds. Miss Mary will be truly missed by all.”
“Mary has been a staple in this community and school district for as long as I can remember,” said vice principal Joey Curtis. “She’s a classy lady that is going to be missed greatly.”
Special education administrative assistant Cyndi Hale described Talley as a giver.
“She loved to help people and give little gifts,” Hale said. “Just last week we were talking about the dusty back windows on our vehicles, and she told me about this duster she bought. I made the comment that I was going to get one.”
She continued, “Later on that morning she came in and gave me one. She touched my heart in so many ways. I miss her already.”
“She was kindhearted, selfless and classy… beautiful on the inside and out,” said Betty Smith, migrant education records clerk.
“Mary was a strong, kind and compassionate friend whom I will miss greatly,” said high school employee Brenda Currie.
School improvement specialist Christy Graham said Talley was a soft-spoken, godly woman with an easy smile and kind words.
“I have enjoyed working with her all these years,” Graham said. “She will most definitely be missed by the school district, her family and friends.”
Gifted and talented coordinator Larissa Allen said Talley was always willing to help out.
“Mary was always so welcome and helpful anytime I had a question, whether it was regarding a report, a presentation or renewing my licensure,” Allen said. “We would always discuss her daughter, Danielle, who I worked with and who she loved so much! No matter who the superintendent was I knew he was in good hands with Mary.”
Lisa Geren, principal of Berryville Intermediate School, said Talley was a cornerstone for the Berryville School District.
“There are no words to describe this kind of loss,” Geren said. “Mary Talley was a friend for everyone. She was there for you. She was genuine and had such a kind spirit. It’s hard to believe it’s real.”
Summer Fultz, child nutrition director and eSchool administrator, said she haf worked with Talley since 2006.
“I went to church with her at Church on the Hill,” Fultz said. “If either one of us ever had something we needed help on, we would go to each other. She’s the nicest person I’ve ever met. She would help anybody.”
Talley is survived by her husband of 39 years, Steve Talley; son, Bryan Talley, and wife, Tasha, of Berryville; daughter, Danielle Talley, of Berryville; sister, Linda Arnold of Berryville; sister, Cyndy Williams of Alaska; sister, Lorraine Meyers, and hsuband, David, of Berryville; sister, Tina Christian, of Conway; sister, Candice Johnston, and husband, David, of Oregon; brother, Mark Christian, and wife, Melissa, of Oregon; brother, Carl Buckner, and wife, Juanita, of Green Forest; grandchildren Kamden, Laykin, Kohen and Kendra; a number of extended family and a host of friends throughout the community and schools who will miss her sorely. She is preceded in death by her parents, Ted and Doris Christian.
A memorial service will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17, at Church on the Hill in Berryville with Pastor Keith Butler officiating. Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. before the service begins.
Services are being provided by Smith Family Funeral Home of Green Forest. Online condolences may be made at SmithFamilyFuneralHome.net.