Benjamin B. and Virginia M. Talley Scholarship
Brig. Gen. Benjamin B. Talley, Ret.
Brigadier General Benjamin B. Talley, Retired, was born July 29, 1903, in Greer County, Oklahoma. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from the Georgia School of Technology in 1925 and a Master of Science degree from the Graduate Engineering School, Westinghouse Colorado, Pittsburgh in 1926. Both degrees were in electrical engineering. After working for a year in Pittsburgh, he was commissioned an officer in the Army Corps of Engineers. As a lieutenant, Talley served for two years in Texas and Colorado with the 2nd Engineers. He attended the Engineer School at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and was then assigned as supply officer of the engineer battalion conducting the Nicaragua Canal Survey.
Returning to the United States, Talley worked for nine years in aerial topographic surveying with the 29th Engineers Detachment at Wright Field. As a captain, he invented a portable stereocomparagraph for which he held a patent, wrote a textbook on aerial photogrammetry, and lectured at Harvard on the subject.
Brig. Gen. Talley came to Alaska in 1940 as a captain to supervise construction of Yakutat Airfield and afterward assumed charge of $300 million of construction, including all Army and Air Corps projects in Alaska. From 1941 until 1943, he was responsible for established air bases at Cold Bay, Adak, Attu and Shemya Island.
In mid-1943, he went to Europe to serve with V Corps as deputy chief of staff for plans, overseeing planning for American troops landing in Normandy, France. For his leadership and bravery under fire on D-Day and during the period immediately following the landings, Talley was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Brig. Gen. Talley took the 1st Engineer Special Brigade from Utah Beach to the Pacific for the Okinawa operation and, after V-J Day, went to Korea as deputy commander of the Army Service Forces.
After World War II, Brig. Gen. Talley served as District Engineer briefly in Huntington, West Virginia, and then for two years in Louisville, Kentucky. After attending the National War College, Brig. Gen. Talley served as chief of the estimates branch of the intelligence division in the army, from 1949 to 1952. In 1952, he was appointed as Division Engineer of the North Atlantic Division. In 1955, he was named division engineer in Morocco, where he retired in the rank of brigadier general on April 30, 1956.
After retiring, he worked in New York, Oklahoma and Vietnam. In 1964, he settled in Anchor Point, where he lived the rest of his life. Following the death of his first wife, Brig. Gen. Talley married Virginia Morsey Wheeler in 1975. During the 1980s, Brig. Gen. Talley helped work on a documentary film about World War II history in Alaska. The award-winning film, “Alaska at War” premiered in Anchorage in October 1986.
Brig. Gen. Talley passed away in 1998.
Virginia M. Talley
Virginia Morsey Wheeler Talley was the only female member in her law class. She was the fourth generation of lawyers in her family.
In the late 1930s when she entered Washington University in St. Louis, she was the only girl in her class. Despite the perception that the law was a male-dominated profession, she excelled at the School of Law, where she worked as editor-in-chief of the Law Quarterly, was valedictorian of her class, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and the Order of the Coif.
After law school, she worked for the legal division of the Rural Electrification Administration, a New Deal agency. Talley traveled throughout the United States to help establish rural electric cooperatives, mediate disputes, and participate in negotiations for the purchase of electric facilities that were being divested from larger utilities. She then worked for the legal department of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank) while it was in its formative years. Talley participated in negotiations, drafted loan documents and listed the bank’s securities on the New York Stock Exchange.
After marrying Lt. Gen. Raymond A. Wheeler, who established the World Bank’s Engineering Department, she became a consultant to the bank. She and her husband then engaged in engineering and legal work for the World Bank and United Nations around the world. After Wheeler died, she married Brig.Gen.Benjamin Talley and retired to Alaska.
She was a member of the American Bar Association, the District of Columbia Bar Association and the Missouri Bar Association. Talley was active in numerous community organizations. Anchor Point Senior Citizens Inc. dedicated its senior center to Talley and her husband, who died in 1998, in recognition of their contributions.
Virginia Talley passed away in 2011.