Obituary – Joseph Daniel Talmadge

Published 4:22 pm Monday, May 6, 2024

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Dr. Joseph Daniel Talmadge of Enterprise passed away Thursday, May 2, at Flowers Hospital. He was 87.

Celebration of Life services were held at 11:30 a.m.  on Saturday, May 4, with Dr. Ben Bowden officiating and Searcy Funeral Home and Crematory directing. A private burial occurred beforehand at Meadowlawn Cemetery. The family received friends from 10:30 a.m. until service time. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the ESCC Foundation for the Joseph Daniel Talmadge Scholarship Fund.

Dr. Talmadge was preceded in death by his parents Horace Hamilton and Helen Stallings Talmadge, and sister Armanda Talmadge Haigler. 

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Survivors include his wife, Phyllis Wilkes Talmadge, Enterprise; daughter, Victoria Talmadge Graham (Michael), Nashville, Tennessee; two sons, Keith Wilkes Sessions (Carlene), Enterprise; and Joseph Daniel Talmadge, Jr. (Elizabeth), Dothan; thirteen grandchildren, Mary Helen Graham Pollard (Michael), Michael Alan Graham, Jr. (Mollee), Molly Graham Lukić (Veljko), James Daniel Graham, Richard Wilkes Sessions, Parker Keith Sessions, Talmadge Royce Sessions, Winston Daniel Sessions, Harper Talmadge Stone (Robert), Elizabeth Talmadge Smith T (Henry), Helen Charbonnet Talmadge, Millicent Phyllis Talmadge and Joseph Daniel Talmadge, III; three great-grandchildren, Leona Louise Graham, Amelia Royce Graham, and Carolyn Victoria Pollard; brother-in-law, Edward David Haigler, Jr. and two nephews, Edward David Haigler, III, and Richard Hamilton Haigler.

Dr. Talmadge committed his life to Jesus Christ at a young age. He was a man of courage, wisdom, and integrity, all made possible by the Holy Spirit living within him. He was raised in Greenville and loved that place and the people of that place. He was particularly influenced by the stories of his maternal grandfather (Big Bud) and the loving relationship between his paternal grandparents (Bammaw and Bampaw). He was the valedictorian of his high school class and earned a full academic scholarship to Vanderbilt University. He ultimately obtained a master’s degree from Vanderbilt and a Ph.D. from Auburn University.  

His first love was history, which he taught with passion and eloquence to anyone that would listen. He began his teaching career at Evergreen High School. He moved to Enterprise in 1965 to become the First Academic Dean at the newly formed Enterprise State Junior College (ESJC). He helped build that school from the ground up and dedicated the rest of his professional life to it. After 18 years as Dean, he became President of ESJC and served in that capacity for 13 years.  

He was a faithful member of First Baptist Church Enterprise and taught Sunday School there for 52 years. He loved his church and his pastor. He loved the men in his Sunday School class. He was a fountain of information on the Bible and theology. He was a wise counselor and helped many people come to faith and apply God’s teaching in their everyday lives.  

He was a loving husband and father, whose family knew him as “Daddy Joe.” He loved Phyllis Talmadge, to whom he was married for 52 years, with all his heart, soul and mind. He was a model of Christlike character, sacrificial love, inspirational leadership, practical wisdom and positive influence for his children. Daddy Joe’s family was the great joy of his life and brought him true happiness and fulfillment. His legacy lives on through his wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Simply put, he was a great man that lived a great life.              

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