Morris Talley

Published 12:34 pm Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Morris Wilson Talley, raconteur, bibliophile, and our very own hippie Santa Claus, died peacefully at home on August 21, 2018.

Morris was an adoring Dad and Daddy to Cullen, Travis, and Heather Laine Talley; silly Pop to Riley-Reed Talley, Marki and Sami Sylvester; enamored Grandpa to Hollis Audley Crayton-Talley; quirky father-in-law to Lauren Talley, Heather Hayes, and Lee Crayton; dear brother to Dit and Jim Talley and Jean Drew; and loyal son to Imogene Wilson Barrios.

Morris was born in Bogalusa, and after several years in Missouri and Germany as a member of the U.S. Army, he settled in Baton Rouge, where he lived for 45 years. But he had a wandering heart. He loved the mountains of Western North Carolina, his memories of Monte Carlo, and the levees of St. James Parish, especially when lit with Christmas Eve bonfires.

Morris was an epic storyteller. He loved to share recollections about growing the son of civil rights leader Bascom Talley and tales about his epic travels with his first and only (but always beloved) wife, Pamela Flow.

Morris never arrived empty handed. He was a passionate cook, who shared his Christmas candy and toasted pecans throughout South Louisiana. His boiled peanuts were the best.

In the last decade of his life, he took enormous pride in caring for his mama, Imogene. There has never been a sweeter woman, and he was kind to her in equal measure. It was in his role as a caretaker, with his mother, where he really shined.

Morris found his calling as a volunteer for Kairos Prison Ministry. His favorite days were spent at Angola State Penitentiary, a place he called “The Monastery,” where he labored to love and sustain his brothers there through prayer, deep conversation, and food cooked with care. Recently, he was part of the team that offered the very first Kairos retreat to residents of death row.

Morris loved conversation-starting t-shirts, Lord of the Rings, telling bad jokes, a cold German beer, and bragging about his children. He never met a stranger, and he engaged everyone he met in conversation (sometimes to their dismay). He could always be counted on to stop waitresses in their tracks. When asked what he would like, he often replied, “To lose 40 pounds and world peace, but I’ll take an iced tea.”

Morris believed that “Love Thy Neighbor” meant everyone. No exceptions. He detested hypocrisy, black and white thinking, racism, and his own habit of eating too much. He particularly hated the state of American politics, but he cried when he read the Constitution. He had unwavering hope in America’s promise. In fact, he staunchly believed that everyone has the capacity for great change, and he never stopped trying to be a better version of himself.

After his death, we found a note he wrote and signed that read, “My purpose in life is to help others unlock the magic in themselves by recognizing their worthiness.” By this measure, his life was a wild success.

Morris’s only requests for a memorial were a keg of beer and a tray of sandwiches. (He also thought it would be a great idea if the women he loved and adored wore strapless dresses, but we are ignoring this ask).

In keeping with the spirit of his wishes, his children are hosting an at home memorial for his friends and family. Visitation will be held Saturday, Sept. 22 from noon until 2 p.m. A short service begins at 2 p.m., followed by po-boys and beverages. For more details, please call or text his daughter Heather Laine Talley at 828-407-0628.

In honor of Morris’ deep belief in the life-changing power of prayer, community and cookies, please consider a donation to Kairos Angola at