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In Remembrance: Irv Tallman

In Remembrance: Irv Tallman

By Don Dillman

WSU Sociology was sad to learn of the passing of ProfessorTallman Irving Emeritus Irv Tallman on Sept. 29, 2017. Tallman was a professor in the department from 1976 until his retirement in 1996—which included several years as department chair. He is remembered as someone who was always ready for stimulating conversations on issues that sociologists should be aware of. We have reprinted his obituary below, which was originally published in WSU News:

Irving Tallman, a distinguished sociologist who worked on the faculty at WSU Pullman from 1976 to 1996, passed away peacefully on Sept. 29, 2017, in San Rafael, Calif.

Born in New York City in 1923, Tallman grew up in San Francisco, which he considered throughout his life to be the most beautiful city on Earth. At Galileo High School he devoted himself to basketball, graduating in 1941. During World War II he served in a radar unit on Kauai, engendering a life-long love of Hawaii. He rushed through his studies at University of California Berkeley, graduating with a degree in psychology in just two and a half years because he felt he was “behind schedule.” He then earned a master’s degree in social work from Wayne State University in Michigan, where he met his first wife, Beverly Johnstone, and spent a further year studying social work at the University of Chicago.

He returned to California, where his daughters, Laura (Robert) and Susan (Nicolas), were born, and he worked at UCSF Langley Porter Clinic and as a researcher on a project studying families in crisis. In 1963 he received his doctoral degree in sociology from Stanford University.

In the 1960s, Tallman was actively engaged in the Civil Rights movement and anti-war movements. He taught at San Francisco State and San Jose State during these years. In 1964 he took a faculty position at the University of Minnesota, where he remained until 1976. He then joined his second wife, Marilyn Ihinger, on the faculty at Washington State University Pullman, where Tallman worked until his retirement in August 1996.

Five stepchildren then entered his life—Robert (Peg), Lance (Mary), Shannon (Robert), Phillip (Patricia), and Erika—as did Agneta (Torbien) who joined the family as an exchange student and remained a de-facto daughter.

During his time at WSU, he was a faculty athletic representative to the NCAA Pac 12 conference, which allowed him to merge two of his great loves—academics and sports—and advocated strongly for the welfare and responsible education of student athletes.

As a researcher and author, he published extensively on questions of family problem-solving and decision-making. He served as a peer reviewer for the National Institute of Mental Health, and lectured at the Université de Genève (Geneva), Universidade de Lisboa (Lisbon), Uppsala University in Sweden, and the London School of Economics.

Upon his retirement in 1999 he returned to the Bay Area, settling in San Rafael, where he continued to publish, while enjoying easy access to good food, good wine, the opera, museums, and the natural splendor of the Bay.

With Marilyn and his children and stepchildren he continued to travel to Hawaii, Europe, South Africa, Egypt, and Asia. Throughout his life, Tallman remained committed to ideals of social justice and to the belief that truth can only be approached through ongoing, rigorous questioning of ideas and evidence.

Tallman is survived by his wife, two daughters, and five stepchildren; grandchildren James (Kim), Meghan (Hernan), Tantum, and Charlotte; 10 step-grandchildren and three great-grandchildren; his sister, Gloria Norton, and her children, Michael and Carol; grand nephews Jeff and Jason; and his dear friends David and Renée Ward. In death he chose to provide one further learning experience by donating his body to University of California San Francisco.