Father of U.S. Senate candidate Talent dies

Monday, October 28, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- Milton Oscar Talent, the father of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jim Talent, died early Sunday after a brief illness. The retired attorney from suburban Kirkwood was 91.

Jim Talent's campaign said election activities would go on, but without personal participation of the former congressman or his immediate family for a couple of days while funeral arrangements are made.

The death of Talent's father was the latest sad chapter of an election campaign made somber by Friday's death of Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone and seven others in a plane crash. That crash had parallels to the plane crash two years ago that killed Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan, husband of Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan, whom Talent is trying to unseat in the Nov. 5 special election.

"The Talent family appreciates your thoughts and prayers in this difficult time," Talent's campaign said in a statement Sunday.

Carnahan, in a statement released by her campaign, said her thoughts and prayers are with the Talent family.

"Even in the heat of a campaign, tragedies such as this remind us of what is truly important in our lives," Carnahan said. "I extend my deepest sympathies to Jim and his family, and I hope that all Missourians will keep them in their prayers."

Hospitalized after fall

Milton Talent, who was widowed, was hospitalized last Monday after a fall at home, Jim Talent told The Associated Press last week.

Jim Talent received news of his father's hospitalization after he concluded his first televised debate with Carnahan last Monday evening, and he rushed from a St. Louis television studio to his father's bedside.

Reassured by his father's doctors and family members, Jim Talent ventured back to several campaign stops, staying in constant touch with the hospital by cell phone. Neither Talent nor his campaign made any public announcements about his father's illness or hospitalization.

By Thursday, however, Jim Talent was awaiting word about surgery for his father as he engaged Carnahan in their second televised debate.

"My dad is a great guy, a great role model," Jim Talent told the AP between campaign stops last week. "He could see right through to the heart of things and knew what was important."

During a 2000 stop at his father's modest ranch-style home in suburban St. Louis County, Talent introduced Milton Talent to an AP reporter and called him "my dad and my friend." Milton Talent replied that he was "just so proud" of his son Jim, then a four-term congressman, "but of course I'm proud of all my children."

Milton Talent joined the Navy immediately after Pearl Harbor and served during World War II. After leaving the Navy, he joined the National Labor Relations Board as a staff attorney. He later opened a private law practice in St. Louis, specializing in labor law.

His wife, Marie Talent, died of breast cancer in 1988.

In addition to his son Jim, Milton Talent is survived by his daughter Barb and son Chuck, both of the St. Louis area.

Funeral arrangements were pending late Sunday.

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