Tom Talley’s roots tap deep into Hobart, Oklahoma in at least three ways - as a farmer, as a Bearcat, and as an active community leader. Tom had plenty of chores to do with his two brothers and two sisters growing up in Hobart. Along with his responsibilities at home, Tom was a successful athlete in high school. He was a member a champion state wrestling team, as well as a member of two state champion football teams for the Hobart Bearcats.
Taking the work ethic learned in early years, Tom set out to further his education through two state colleges. He attended the University of Oklahoma for three semesters, then transferred to and graduated from Oklahoma State University with an Agriculture Economics degree in 1973.
He was about halfway through a Masters Degree when he graduated from OSU and was planning to go into the Masters Program. Tom then took the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). “I signed up for the LSAT my last semester at OSU and didn’t do much prep,” he said. “I went into it (the LSAT) with the idea I was going to grad school and didn’t stress out about it.” Tom scored in the 93rd percentile, was accepted to attend law school at the University of Oklahoma and passed the bar in 1976.
He started practicing law in Hobart with his father in the fall of 1976 primarily doing real estate, domestic relations, and probate and estate planning. They worked together until his father’s passing in 1996. Since his dad’s passing, Tom has had work associates, but is currently practicing solo and working part time as district attorney.
“I’m the youngest attorney in Kiowa County,” he said. “And I’m 70!” he continued. Tom believes there is plenty of business for another attorney in Hobart, and it would be wonderful for a younger attorney to begin practicing here in rural Oklahoma.
Tom is intentional about assisting his community through his career and volunteer leadership roles. He has been the Chairman of the Hobart Economic Development Authority 20 plus years. Through his leadership with the Kiowa County Industrial Development Authority, he was instrumental in the building and financing the health. He helped establish the General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute and Museum and now serves as Chairman. He also was a Hobart City Council Member for 12 years serving as Mayor for the majority of those years. Tom has served on the South Western Oklahoma Development Authority Board of Trustees for nearly 20 years. He currently serves as Vice Chairman. With a servant attitude, Tom stated, “I don’t really like to tout about all the things I do, I just like to do ‘em.”
“I’m happy to serve on the SWODA Board and I enjoy it,” Tom confirmed. He believes it’s important to learn about the opportunities for Hobart and Kiowa County through SWODA and pass the information along. The REAP and CDBG REAP funded projects have been especially impactful in Tom’s perspective. Hobart has been able to upgrade police cars, pave streets and purchase a backhoe to name a few.
Tom views SWODA as important asset to all of the small communities in southwest Oklahoma, but he doesn’t think a lot of people know what SWODA does. He acknowledges that helping with economic development and connecting the communities with resources to meet critical needs are both important efforts that SWODA staff is dedicated to.
“Clyde Morgan does a wonderful job interacting with the communities and making sure they are up to date on their applications, and that they are done correctly,” Tom commented about SWODA’s Director of Community Development.
Tom and his wife Guyla will be celebrating their 49th wedding anniversary this June. They have two sons and six grandkids who all live in Kiowa County. He still does a little farming and ranching in his spare time.
According to Tom, helping people and solving problems is his driving force. It is certain that the lessons he learned on the farm not only cultivated the genuine work ethic in his life, but it also planted a spirit of community in his heart and grew a ‘give back’ approach in each step he takes.