David Talley, better known as "The Balloon Man," left us last week in a horrific car crash on the interstate in Meridian.
Mere words cannot express the significance of his passing.
He was a true artist, self-made.
Readers: You may have met him or at least admired his work. He appeared at each gathering downtown with his sack of balloons. At first he presented balloon flowers, roses were his specialty but with time, his catalog of balloon images increased.
I have included a photo of David with his version of a balloon ballerina, life size. He stands on his tiptoes next to his creation showing a perfect pirouette and big smile.
I think smiles were as important to David as the balloon images he created. He wanted to make people happy, and indeed he did. And even today as we think of him, a smile will emerge upon our faces.
Kids flocked to him as if he were Santa.
And yes, he was Santa on more than one occasion for an event or party. He was booked year-round for birthday parties and events where people wanted to smile and have a good time.
David was naturally that kind of guy.
For 10 years he taught a class at Meridian Community College's summer event, College for Kids. This year he was hired for the same class at East Central Mississippi Community College.
College for Kids is where he and I reconnected. I, as well, taught drama classes there. We had signed our College for Kids contracts to teach again when COVID shut us down. The last time I saw David, we commiserated our disappointment and hoped to teach again in 2022.
Yes, we had hoped, but the Lord had other plans for David Talley.
For several years David worked at Toys “R” Us in the mall until the retail store closed. He had a family, needed insurance. However, during off hours, he perfected his art form. Boy, did he ever!
He was a preacher's kid, a married man (later divorced) father of two daughters with his parents and siblings living nearby.
He wasn't afraid to take on a job that might not be a good fit. For example, he decided maybe he could sell cars. But no, David wasn't pushy enough to sell cars. Oh, he had the charm and kindness but when it came to persuading the people to sign the dotted line, well … he had rather (I think) make them smile with a balloon rose.
That was just David.
So he finally found his notch, his calling and his talent. He was an extraordinary balloon artist.
On Thursday, July 22, David was booked for a back to school bash at Dumont Plaza but he didn't make it. The Lord called him home around 3 a.m that morning.
David Talley, Balloon Artist, Extraordinaire. We miss you already.
Anne McKee is a proud, native Meridianite and Mississippi historian. She is the author of “Remembering Mississippi” and “Historic Photos of Mississippi.” Anne is primarily known as a Mississippi Storyteller and as well the Director of Rose Hill Cemetery Costumed Tour. See her website: www.annemckeestoryteller.com