Kathy Talbert Weller ’71 always thought of the University of Redlands as home. Her parents, Myron and Harriet Talbert, moved their family to Redlands from Grand Forks, North Dakota, when Kathy was eight years old. In those early years, Myron was the U of R physician as he launched his private surgical practice. Harriet’s piano talents benefited the Redlands Bowl and local high schools for decades; Kathy recalls her mother was thrilled to accompany famed actor and singer John Raitt ’39 while he entertained classmates at reunions. The Talbert family grew up enjoying offerings at the University, including Sunday lunches in the Commons, playing on the tennis courts, and enjoying musical performances such as the Feast of Lights and the symphony.
Attending the University was a “natural decision” for Kathy and her two sisters, Barbara Hardy ’72 and the late Nancy Belk ’76. Kathy, a theatre arts major, was involved in Alpha Theta Phi, Sigma Alpha Iota, and the University choir. “I found the environment nurturing and supportive, both academically and socially.”
She has fond memories of numerous faculty members, notably Professor Paul Little, who recommended her for an internship with the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. “It was the biggest turning point in my young adult life,” she says. A short time later, Little asked her to temporarily fill a position in the theatre department as costume designer, musical director, and teacher of acting and costume design. This experience eventually led Kathy to pursue an M.F.A. in directing at Florida State University and a career in entertainment.
Kathy garnered internships with renowned theater directors Alan Schneider and Michael Bennett on the original Broadway musical A Chorus Line. She also assisted director Mike Nichols on a play at Lincoln Center. During one of these plays, she met her husband, Michael Weller, an acclaimed playwright and screenwriter.
Her career was spent primarily as a casting director at Paramount Pictures in New York before managing a writer- development program for the five soap operas produced by Procter & Gamble. She was appointed vice president of daytime programming for the East Coast at NBC in 1994. For the past decade, she has been a floral designer.
As her industry success grew, her connection to her alma mater never faded. “I have always felt valued by Redlands,” she says. “Even Michael, who is not an alumnus, has felt that same appreciation.” She remembers the late Alumni Relations Director Merilyn Bonney asking her to create the University’s 75th anniversary theatrical production. When the University’s centennial celebration planning began, Dean Emerita and Vice President of External Affairs Char Burgess asked Kathy to again lend her talents. Kathy, who contributed to what became Och Tamale: The Musical, recalls, “These shows resulted in exciting collaborations with talented alumni, including Jo Dierdorff ’69, Marilyn Magness Carroll ’75, and Steve Carroll ’74.”
Given what her parents made possible for the Talbert family, as well as countless others in the Redlands community through their philanthropy, it was important to Kathy and Michael to establish a scholarship at the University in Myron and Harriet’s names. “We want to honor them in appreciation of their generosity by assisting future generations of Bulldogs as they seek that unique U of R experience.”
For information on how you, too, can establish a scholarship at Redlands to honor loved ones, please contact Ray Watts at 909-748-8358 or firstname.lastname@example.org.