The Marianne Talley Foundation:  celebrating Marianne’s life with community collaboration.

The Marianne Talley Foundation was established after my sister, Marianne, died suddenly of a heart arrythmia on May 18, 1993.  Marianne was an avid athlete who won several league titles in swimming, was a member of the USC swim team and completed the famed Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii the year before she passed away.  As my family considered the best way to honor her legacy, we made the decision to establish the non-profit Marianne Talley Foundation for the purpose of funding scholarships for female student athletes at Arroyo Grande High School. 

The first scholarship of $4000 ($1000 per year for 4 years) was granted to Amber Dodson in June 1994.  After the death of my grandfather in 1999, we decided to add the Oliver Talley Scholarship, this time for a male student athlete.  Around that time, The Marianne Talley and Oliver Talley Scholarships were increased to $6,000.  Finally, after my dad passed away in 2006, we added the Don Talley Leadership Scholarship, $10,000, to celebrate my father’s legacy of leadership.  Our annual giving for these scholarships totals $22,000 and we have granted a total of $358,500 to 64 worthy students since the inception of the foundation.

The initial seed money (more than $100,000) for the Marianne Talley Foundation came from the tremendous outpouring of our local community at the time of Marianne’s death.  Over the next few months, we were approached by two people who wanted to help support the Foundation as well as honor my sister’s memory.  Coach Roger Warnes of the SLO Roadrunners came to me with the idea of hosting a fun run at the winery and through the surrounding Rincon Vineyard.  I had long been an avid runner, so I welcomed this idea. The first ever Marianne Talley Memorial Fun Run occurred in 1994, with the special twist that anyone who “Beat the Vintner” (me) got a special commemorative t-shirt.  Over the years, we raised lots of money and I gave away lots of t-shirts.  In 2018, after the 25th Anniversary of the event, and the retirement of Race Director Marian Fiorentino, we made the difficult decision to discontinue the Marianne Talley Memorial Fun Run.

About the same time as Roger and I were organizing that first fun run, my father was approached by a longtime family friend, Tim Sugishita, about holding a cioppino dinner as a fundraiser.   This was the outgrowth of a casual cioppino dinner for a group of friends in Tim’s backyard that had occurred for several years.  The inaugural Pinot/Cioppino Dinner was held at Talley Vineyards sometime around 1994.  It now occurs annually on the third Saturday of February during the height of Dungeness Crab Season and is prepared entirely by a local crew of volunteers, who are longtime family friends and supporters of Arroyo Grande High School.  This has become a signature annual event at Talley Vineyards and features a vast array of large format and library selections of Pinot Noir, the perfect wine to pair with the complex, spicy flavors of cioppino.  The dinner is also the key fundraising event for the Marianne Talley Foundation.

The Marianne Talley Foundation is a registered 501(c)3 non profit organization and all donations are tax deductible.  If you’d like to make a donation or learn more, please contact my mother, Rosemary or me,