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Earl Watkins Talley

September 21, 1922 - January 12, 2020

U.S. Veteran

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Earl Watkins “Watt” Talley, 97, of Lynchburg died Sunday, January 12, 2020.

When humble farm owners Samuel Pinkney Talley and his wife Ida Fleming Lowery had their fourth child, they could not have imagined that Earl Watkins, the “runt” of the family, would develop a passion and aptitude in electronics that would direct the path of his life. Born on September 21, 1922 at his family’s homeplace on Red House House in the Mount Zion community outside Rustburg, Earl soon acquired the nickname of “Watt” –well-earned by his early interest in radios and electricity. His first employment was at Bob Musgrove’s Radio Service on Church Street. That valuable job with an important mentor gained him experience and encouragement, but it was stopped short by World War II. Earl’s abilities were quickly discerned and propelled him to serve with the 154th Signal Company of the U.S. Army’s 14th Armored Division, where he helped maintain all-important radio communications systems in the European theater. After the war, he returned home to the love of his life, Arlene Hodnett. Earl had by that time landed a good career with Philco as representative for the North Atlantic with “offices” in Greenland, Iceland, Labrador, the Azores, and Newfoundland, but Arlene urged him not to accept faraway jobs so when they married they could remain close to their families in Campbell County. It was then he decided to open an electronics sales and repair service in Lynchburg. His initial immersion in radio repair and sales burgeoned as televisions became a prized fixture in American homes. In later years, he became a communication specialist with Motorola and installed and serviced two-way radios. In his spare time, he was an avid Amateur Radio enthusiast (W4RLA), added a wonderful “ham shack” to the basement of his and Arlene’s little brick home in Fairview Heights, and installed a high antenna tower in the backyard so he could be connected by radio to the entire world.

In his home of seventy years, three children were raised: Amelia Talley Driskill (Steve), Audrey Talley Haugan; (Tom deceased), and Earl Watkins Talley, Jr. (Caressa). Adding to his joy in retirement were his grandchildren Joseph and Nan Haugan, Morganne and Prestina Talley. Earl’s beloved wife Arlene passed in 2009.

Earl was a member of College Hill Baptist Church, where he served as deacon for many years. He was also active with and served as officer in the Virginia Electronic Association. The many hours necessary to run his “shop” did not prevent him from taking his children on frequent walks through woods on the two country farms of his and his wife’s parents, Sunday family drives, and much conversation and interaction. He was a beloved and nurturing father and his children learned what integrity and courage were by his example.

Earl was the last living member of a large family which included his brothers William Isaac “Bill” Talley, Samuel Spencer “Sam” Talley, Oscar Preston “Hank” Talley, and Donald Douglas “Jim” Talley and sisters Lessie Ella Talley Maxey Branch Quick, Ina Sue Talley, Edna Irene Talley Pugh, and Mary Ida Talley McHaney. He also had many beloved nieces and nephews. His great heart beat its last on January 12 and he died peacefully at The Carrington in Lynchburg.

A visitation will be held at Tharp Funeral Home in Lynchburg, Tuesday, January 14, 2020 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at Mount Zion United Methodist Church, 5662 Red House Road near the village of Rustburg, with interment to follow in the church cemetery. The service will be conducted by retired minister and family friend Rev. Phil Bailey.

In lieu of flowers memorial donations can be made at the suggestion of the family to Mount Zion Church Cemetery Fund or College Hill Baptist Church.

Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family.


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