Banks Cooper Talley
Banks Cooper Talley
  • November 15, 1926 - October 19, 2017
  • Raleigh, North Carolina

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Dr. Banks C. Talley, Jr., 90, of Raleigh, North Carolina died on October 19, 2017. He was born in Bennettsville, South Carolina on November 15,1926 to Banks Cooper and Mary Elizabeth Colvert Talley. Although he grew up in Bennettsville, SC, he lived in Raleigh for more than 70 years and always considered North Carolina his true home. He graduated from Bennettsville High School at 17 and enlisted in the Army, serving in the Philippines at the end of World War II and achieving the rank of Sergeant. His job as Company Clerk materialized when his CO discovered he was the only one who had taken typing in high school. After the war, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he completed an AB in History in three years. He was a member of the Chi Psi fraternity and served as President in 1950. He ran for UNC Student Government Secretary-Treasurer with the campaign slogans, "You can Bank on Talley" and "Rally with Talley." He was also President of the Dialectic Literary Society and a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece and the Order of the Old Well. His best pals at UNC-CH were roommate John Sanders, Henry Bowers, Dick Murphy, Al Lowenstein and Richard Jenrette. He then proceeded to finish his Masters and PhD degrees also at UNC-CH. He also served in the US Air Force Reserves for 30 years where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
After graduation, a chance call from UNC System President William Friday led to his first job as Assistant Dean of Students at NC State College in Raleigh in 1951. His boss was Dean Edward Cloyd and John W. Harrelson was Chancellor. While working as the first Director of Student Activities at NC State, he met his future wife, a beautiful and intelligent Financial Aid Counselor named Louise Wooten. His Executive Assistant, Ms. Alice Shirley, played matchmaker to the man the Technician called the "Bachelor Dean," introducing him to Louise. Banks and Louise were married in Goldsboro and then settled in Raleigh to live in George Matsumoto's former house. They later designed and built their home at 2511 York Road for their growing family.
Banks worked at NC State University through 33 years and five Chancellors, rising to the position of Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. His most trusted Administrative Assistants were Undine Legrand and Debbie Henderson. His working relationships with Chancellor Carey Bostian, Chancellor John T. Caldwell and Dean Jack Stewart were the most rewarding of his professional career. His greatest achievement at NCSU, and the one of which he was most proud, was creating an arts-intensive atmosphere at a traditional STEM university. He was vital to the creation of: Friends of the College, the Music and Theater departments, Thompson Theater, the Craft Center and the Gregg Museum of Art. Banks thought it was paramount for students from all walks of life to be exposed to the visual and performing arts. His closest colleagues at NCSU were Henry Bowers, Thomas Stafford, Gerald Hawkins, John Kanipe, Carolyn Jessup, Ron Butler, Charles Haywood, Karl Eycke, Tom Covington, Brita Tate, George Worsley and Art White. He also enjoyed his friendship with his colleague Suzy Purrington, who he always called "Dr. Purrington." He took leaves of absence from NCSU to serve as the first Chief of Staff to Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. in 1977 and as Executive Vice President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, DC in 1983. He retired from NCSU in 1984 and went on to serve as the Executive Director of the North Carolina Symphony for 11 years. His good friends and Symphony Board Members, Margie Johnson and Peyton Woodson, sought him out for the job. Never one to stop working, he next worked as a Consultant and Fundraiser at Preservation North Carolina. He then returned to NCSU as Director of Special Projects and Vice Chancellor Emeritus for Arts NC State where he raised money for the Gregg Museum and saw the renovation of Thompson Theater and the Craft Center come to fruition. A point of pride was the roughly 500 thank-you calls he made to individual donors to the Gregg, and he was thrilled to be able to attend the museum's opening in August.
Banks' accomplishments on behalf of his beloved state resulted in numerous awards. He was especially honored to receive the North Carolina Award for Public Service, the Distinguished Alumnus Award from UNC-CH, membership in Pi Kappa Phi at NCSU, the Bowers Medal of the Arts from NCSU (with friends Martha and Henry Zaytoun), the NCSU Alumni Award for Meritorious Service (for a non-alumni member), the Ruth Coltrane Cannon Award for Historic Preservation, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the City of Raleigh Award, and the Raleigh Medal of the Arts (with friends Nancy Olson and Dwane Powell) and to be inducted into the Raleigh Hall of Fame. The naming of the Talley Student Union at NCSU in 1995 was his greatest honor.
Banks was also a voracious reader, an ardent world traveler and a classical music and opera lover. To Louise's frequent dismay, he would often read the end of a book before he even started it. "That way, I know how it ends," he would reply when asked about his frequent habit. In his youth, he accomplished ten years of perfect Sunday school attendance and earned his Eagle Scout with Bronze Palm. His summers were spent at Scout Camp in Cheraw, SC with his buddies Eston Norwood and Franklin McLaurin.
He went regularly with his mother to hear concerts and see plays in Columbia, SC. He enjoyed spending time with his cousin Julia Talley Mullis. He and his father, a decorated WWI and WWII veteran, purchased their first hi-fi in Columbia so they could listen to classical and opera 78's together. He also liked watching high school baseball games and going to Blowing Rock in the summertime.
Banks was an accomplished gardener and his two favorite things to plant were daffodils and