Allene Talmage, a teacher at the Springs School for more than 20 years who was known for her dedication to children, the natural world, and the Springs community, died at the age of 93 at Southampton Hospital on Nov. 17. Her family said Alzheimer’s disease had begun to affect her in 2007.
Mrs. Talmage came to Springs in the summer of 1947 to visit her sister, Ophelia Harris, who had married a Springs man during World War II. She met Richard Thomas Talmage during that summer, and they were married in her hometown in Tennessee the following November.
The couple first rented a house in Amagansett and about a year after their marriage bought half of what had been a Coast Guard barracks at the end of Fireplace Road in Springs. It was there, overlooking Accabonac Harbor and the Talmage family dairy farm, that the couple raised four children, and that Mrs. Talmage’s love of nature was nurtured. She also was the bookkeeper for her husband’s plumbing business.
In preparing a eulogy for his mother, Thomas Talmage listed the many animals, both domestic and wild, that she watched out for. A blackback gull, Sinbad, became a pet and she would drive to Louse Point to take him home when he wandered there and bothered beachgoers. At home, she was also known for the garden she tended and the roses she grew.
One of Mrs. Talmage’s proudest achievements was “A Day in Springs,” which she organized in connection with the Town of East Hampton’s 350th anniversary. Among the many events were tours of the hamlet, a parade of boats in Three Mile Harbor, demonstrations by baymen, a sandcastle contest, a Bonac chowder supper, and a dance.
Mrs. Talmage also had worked on the town’s comprehensive plan and lobbied successfully for a Springs Youth Association building, which was constructed on Springs School property.
Over the years, she also helped the town form a litter committee and worked with the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee.
She was born on May 16, 1923, at home in Cumberland City, Tenn., to Grover Cleveland Bass and the former Mary Elizabeth Allen Bass. She attended the W.T. Thomas School there from kindergarten through 12th grade and then attended the University of Tennessee for a year. Enrolling at Baker University in Kansas, she majored in psychology and child development and graduated in 1945. Her professional career began when she was recruited to teach home economics and coach the boys and girls basketball teams at the Thomas School.
Mrs. Talmage went back to school in 1966, taking courses at Adelphi and Hofstra Universities and obtaining certification in elementary education. She worked at the Southampton Elementary School for a time and then was hired to teach sixth grade in Springs. She taught at various levels there until her retirement in June 1989.
In a letter to The Star on Dec. 5, a former Springs teacher, Sue Ellen O’Connor, said, “If there was a child in need or work to be done, Allene Talmage was there.” Irene Tully, who also taught at Springs with her, wrote to say that Mrs. Talmage’s “energy and humor made her seem about 10 years old. She never simplified things . . . but led us on walks in the meadows and on the shore of Accabonac Harbor.”
In his eulogy, Thomas Talmage said that late in life she had convinced her daughter, Shirley Talmage, “to erect a monstrously large bird feeding station and spread corn for the deer and turkey. One day, 27 deer were seen,” he wrote, adding, “I think it was payback for all she did for them.”
Mrs. Talmage’s children, Thomas Talmage, Richard Talmage, and Shirley Talmage, who live in Springs, survive. Her husband died in 2000, and another son, Larry Talmage, died in 2005. She is also is survived by eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Her sister, Ophelia Harris, and a brother, Walter Bass, died before her.
Friends and relatives gathered at the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton on Nov. 20 and a funeral service was held at the East Hampton Presbyterian Church on Nov. 21. Donations in Mrs. Talmage’s memory have been suggested to the Springs Fire Department Ambulance Company, 179 Fort Pond Boulevard, East Hampton 11937.