Orange County Branch Newsletter

May 2017

Branch News

In Memoriam Donald D. Talley 1935-2017

In Memoriam

Donald D. Talley, 1935 - 2017

Donald Dexter Talley was born on January 26, 1935, in Trenton, New Jersey to Kenneth and Esther Talley.  He was one of three children, with an older brother Doug, and a younger sister Jennifer.  Don graduated from Trenton Central High School in 1952.  Subsequently, he graduated from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania with a B.S. Degree in Civil Engineering. 

After graduation, Don lived for one year in Elmira, New York before moving to Southern California in 1957.  Over the years, he lived in Long Beach, Garden Grove, and Irvine.  Don married Beverly Dambrauckas in 1960.  They had three children, Christina Lee, Steven Lane, and Jonathan Hale.  With thoughts of making a change in his career, Don later graduated from Talbot Theological Seminary in 1971, with an M.DIV degree.  He also attended Graduate-level Civil Engineering classes at CSU Fullerton.  His first wife, Beverly, died of cancer in 1987.  He then married Ildiko Toth Wood in 1990. 

Early in his career Don worked behind the scenes at Disneyland making sure that many of the amusement rides there (especially the Tea Cup ride!) stayed in good working condition.  His engineering career included a few years at the County of Orange where he worked on Flood Control projects.  He then moved to Toups Engineering, Inc. where, among other projects, he prepared the County of Orange Master Plan of Drainage for the Laguna Hills Area in 1971.  In approximately 1981 Don went to work for the Jack G. Raub Co., then located in Costa Mesa, CA, as the head of the Hydraulics and Hydrology Design Group. Much of his work then centered around the development of the communities of Mission Viejo and Aliso Viejo.  That job evolved as JGR became a Division of the Mission Viejo Co., and subsequently as part of Nolte and Associates’ office in Mission Viejo.  All that came to an end, however, with the housing recession in 1993-94.  In 1995 or ’96, as an employee of PBS&J, Don was appointed as the Chief Drainage Engineer for the (Transportation) Corridor Design Management Group (CDMG) in Santa Ana, CA, where in support of the Transportation Corridor Agencies TCA) he oversaw the review of drainage design work prepared by Silverado Constructor’s engineers (CH2M Hill, RBF and ASL).  Following completion of the Transportation Corridor work, Don continued as a Senior Project Manager at PBS&J until his retirement.  Don also served one year as the Chairman of the ASCE OC Branch Hydraulics and Hydrology Technical Group (HHTG) (now known as EWRI).

Don retired in 2005 and with his wife Ildiko moved to Paradise, CA.  After spending ten years there, he and Ildiko moved to Lincoln, CA.  Over the last 30 years, Don’s interests included collecting antique tools, culminating in an impressive collection which he displayed in many venues throughout the U.S.  Don passed away unexpectedly on April 25, 2017, while in rehab for knee replacement surgery.  

While very accomplished in many professional endeavors, Don will be most remembered by his surviving spouse, children, family members and friends as a loving, kind and generous man.  His gentle spirit and quick wit made him easy to love.  As some of his engineering friends put it, “Don was a great guy and lived his faith”; “he was one of the Good guys.”  He was loved by many and will be greatly missed.


Published, in part, in the Orange County Register on May 2, 2017.  Information on Don’s Civil Engineering work history has been added by his long-time associate and friend, William E. Lawson, PE, on May 7, 2017