Long Time San Jacinto Resident and SJHS Teacher, Stephen “Steve” Talley Funeral Service Planned

San Jacinto, Calif.; On Sunday, October 25, 2015, Stephen “Steve” Talley lost a long and difficult battle with cancer. After having been born and raised in the San Jacinto Valley, Talley spent most of his life living here. Talley taught and influenced area artists here in the valley and far beyond for more than 30 years and spent a lifetime teaching and touching all those who knew him. Talley was surrounded by family, friends and loved ones when he passed. He was 62 years old.

A memorial service is planned for Friday, October 30, at 2:00 pm at the San Jacinto 412 Church, located at 1450 W. 7th Street, San Jacinto, CA 92583. Countless numbers of Talley’s former students and fellow educators, many of whom Talley kept in close contact with via social media right up until his death, are planning on attending the service.

Stephen "Steve" Talley

Stephen “Steve” Talley 2014,Photo Credit: Melnee Beth Whiting Benfield

A Lifetime of Artistry And InfluEnce

Talley was recognized professionally for his artistic abilities, as early as the age of11. Through the years, Talley earned more than 100 awards in various competitions, winning many first place or Best in Show Awards.  His work has been published and displayed in many prestigious environments.

Talley was an art teacher with San Jacinto Unified School District, and began his 32-year career at San Jacinto High School in 1983. Due to his battle with cancer, Talley had been unable to work regularly with students since 2014. A number of Talley’s former students have gone on to achieve professional excellence and success as artists themselves and this growing community of artists continues to inspire and influence each other as well as new artists.

“Steve had an amazing impact on the field of art for the high school, with his students winning countless local, regional, statewide, and national awards,” said Matt Hixson, San Jacinto Unified School District’s Assistant Superintendent of Personnel, “and some of his students’ artwork has appeared in the nation’s capitol, in the California state capitol, and even in the national media.”


Steve Talley, Best of Show 1973, Photo Credit:
Steve Talley, Best of Show 1973,
Photo Credit: Melnee Beth Whiting Benfield

Talley used a number of different mediums, including oil, watercolor, scratchboard, pencil, acrylic and pastel. Some of Talley’s favorite themes were wildlife and nature, although he was also very well known for his artwork depicting fantasy, portrait, still life, plein air, floral and impressionism.

In speaking about Talley, Jerry Peebles, the President of the San Jacinto Education Foundation Board of Directors said, “I grew up with Steve because his brother was my best friend. I’ve known him my whole life.” Peebles continued,  “Steve grew up in this town and had a love of art and he was able to transfer that love to our students; he was an amazing man.”

Talley spent over 40 years developing a wide range of various artistic techniques and mediums. Talley taught painting at the Art Academy of Los Angeles, and was sought after as a judge, lecturer and demonstrator throughout the country and his art was known internationally.

Talley was an active community member and by all accounts was an outstanding role model for students, artists and teachers alike.  Talley, who graduated from the San Jacinto High School in 1972, was an active member of the San Jacinto Education Foundation/Alumni Association, and he helped establish the Alumni Association’s Art Enrichment Program in 2008, which was intended to recognize outstanding student artists at every school site each year.

San Jacinto High School art teacher Stephen "Steve" Talley displays some of his artwork in 2011. Photo Credit: GAIL WESSON / The Press-Enterprise)
San Jacinto High School art teacher Stephen “Steve” Talley displays some of his artwork in 2011. Photo Credit: GAIL WESSON / The Press-Enterprise

In 2011, the Ed Foundation renamed the program the Stephen Talley Art Enrichment Program. In 2015, the Ed Foundation collaborated with the San Jacinto Unified School District to create the Stephen Talley Visual and Performing Arts Hall of Fame, to annually honor San Jacinto High School alumni who have excelled and contributed to the field of visual and performing arts.

Contributions by awarded alumni are on exhibit in new display cases featured in the San Jacinto High School theater’s foyer. Categories in the display include Instrumental Music, Theater Arts, Visual Arts and Vocal Music.

Countless former students of Talley’s have been flooding several sites dedicated to the former beloved teacher with depictions of their artwork. Many of the former students say Talley was instrumental in igniting their love for art.

Many of Talley’s works of art can be seen on the website www.stephentalley.com. Since it was announced that Talley had passed, the outpouring of sentiment and appreciation by former students has been steady on the Facebook page “Mr. Talley’s Artists Legacy.”


Sources: San Jacinto Unified School DistrictStephenTalley.comPress Enterprise


Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com



  • Lynne Roman Perry

    Thank you for this beautiful description of part of Stephen’s life. He was my first cousin, much loved and respected by other relatives and myself. Art truly was his great love, and it showed; he was excellent in his chosen field. What a love he had for his students, and he devoted himself to them right up to the end. Much admired by many, and as my dear cousin, I will miss him so.

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