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K-State Today

July 31, 2013

POW survivor helps education take flight

Submitted by Hayli Morrison

Bill Talley has always loved flying. Through a deferred gift to the department of aviation at Kansas State University Salina, he and wife, Louan, will help ensure that love of flight is instilled in future generations.

The Talleys toured the Salina campus and airplane hangars, and were impressed with the teaching technology and friendly atmosphere. After researching investment options, they chose to establish the Talley Family K-State Salina Excellence Fund through a charitable gift annuity because of the tax deductions, exemptions and structured payments they would receive.

“This has financial benefits for the donor as well as for Kansas State University. That’s why we did this,” Bill Talley said. “And we believe in education. It’s the key to a better life, not just monetarily but in general.”

The 80-year-old retired Air Force colonel speaks from experience. He chose to pursue his master’s in business administration from the University of Oklahoma at a pivotal moment in his 27-year active duty career, when he could no longer pilot planes.

In 1972, Talley’s F-105 fighter plane was shot down over Vietnam. It was his 182nd flight mission and it would be his last. Talley spent 11 months as a prisoner of war but tried to keep his spirits high, with help from the encouragement of his friend, Capt. Eugene “Red” McDaniel.

“He was a very inspirational person,” Talley said. “He said, ‘One of these days we’re going home, and when we go home, we will be able to appreciate the rest of our lives more and appreciate the things other people take for granted.’”

Talley was released in 1973 after America negotiated a peace treaty with North Vietnam. He returned to his wife and two children, entered graduate school and took an administrative job until retiring from the Air Force in 1981.

Longtime Oklahoma residents, the Talleys now live near their daughter in Hutchinson, Kan. Their granddaughter, Cassidy Keim, is a senior studying microbiology at K-State and preparing for graduate school.

“We decided if we were going to be Kansas residents, we needed to support Kansas colleges,” said Talley, who met his wife of 58 years on the campus of Oklahoma State University. “Since our granddaughter was going to K-State, we chose that one. We’re happy that we did.”