Dr. Clifford R. Talbert Jr. and Mrs. Bettie McHaney Talbert of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, have been named the 2018 Friends of the University by the Southeast Missouri University Foundation. They will be honored at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 16 in the atrium of the River Campus Cultural Arts Center as part of the annual President’s Council Gala.
The Friend of the University Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Southeast Missouri University Foundation. When the Foundation Board established the award, it also established the criteria for naming the Friend of the University. The Friend of the University must have the respect of the community and the University and must have acted to confirm their interest and involvement with the University.
The Talberts have been avid supporters of Southeast Missouri State University, are members of the Southeast Missouri University Foundation President’s Council and have demonstrated a long-standing commitment to Southeast’s River Campus. They have been annual donors to Symphony Orchestra and theatre scholarships, were major contributors when the Southeast Missouri Symphony Orchestra participated in the 2009 American Celebration of Music in China, and Mrs. Talbert has served on the Southeast Missouri Symphony Board. In addition, the family also has established the Dr. Clifford Talbert, Jr., Endowed Medical Scholarship for pre-medical students.
The Talberts have been loyal to the Greek Community at Southeast Missouri State University. Dr. Talbert contributed to the building fund of the newly constructed Pi Kappa Alpha house in Southeast’s Greek Village. They also established the Bettie Talbert Endowed Alpha Delta Pi Pledge Scholarship for an “Outstanding Pledge of Alpha Delta Pi” at Southeast.
Mrs. Talbert is credited with founding Delta Nu chapter of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority at Southeast, and over the years she has mentored countless groups. She served on the executive committee and as a rush advisor for more than 25 years, and in 1970, she was appointed to the International Office of Director of Membership Selection of Alpha Delta Pi, a position she held for seven years.
Dr. Talbert began his journey into medicine as a pre-medical student at the University of Missouri. After three years, he was accepted to Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, graduating in 1959. He completed his residency at Barnes Jewish Hospital and cardiology training at the University of Missouri Medical Center.
Serving with the Public Health Service stationed at the Charleston Carolina Naval Base with rank of Lieutenant Commander, he was assigned to the Lipid Research Study verifying negative effects of high cholesterol. He was chosen to present research results to more than 6,000 physicians at the American Heart Association annual international scientific congress.
After graduation from the University of Missouri, Mrs. Talbert taught home economics at Horton Watkins (Ladue) High School in St. Louis for four years and developed a majorette group and a flag corps. Arriving in Cape Girardeau, she trained and supervised the Central High School majorettes, and in 1968, she was honored by the Jaycees as “Outstanding Young Woman of the Year.”
Dr. Talbert began medical practice in 1965 in Cape Girardeau. As the only trained Interventional Cardiologist in this area, he introduced many cardiology procedures at Southeast Hospital and Saint Francis Medical Center. Considered a pioneer in cardiology, he initiated the development of cardiac clinics at hospitals in Perryville and Sikeston, Missouri, and Murphysboro, Illinois. In 1977, Dr. Talbert founded the Cardiovascular Consultants Medical Group in Cape Girardeau and recruited others, expanding to eight cardiologists. He was co-chairman of Southeast Hospital’s Surgical Search Committee, recruiting the first cardiac surgeons to the area.
Dr. Talbert served as the director of Cape Cardiac Missouri, an American Heart Association program where registered nurses trained small hospital nursing staff on cardiac patient care.
During his presidency of the Missouri Heart Association, his stated goal was to open CPR courses to lay public in Missouri instead of policy limiting training to health professionals. Mrs. Talbert organized a group from the Medical Auxiliary to become instructors. With assistance from the American Heart Association, the 10 instructors trained more than 1,000 in the general public during the first year, and then trained Cape Girardeau police officers, PE instructors and county firemen as instructors to train their own members. The Talberts’ sons became instructors and trained Boy Scout troops. Other Medical Auxiliaries in Missouri provided classes. Later, the hospitals and Red Cross opened their classes to the public
Dr. Talbert has served as president of the Cape County Medical Society, chief of cardiology at Southeast Hospital and chief of cardiology at Saint Francis Medical Center. He was designated as a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology in 1981.
In 1984, they developed Plaza Galleria which was centered by an indoor ice skating facility which was home to a competitive skating team that won many first-place trophies. Mrs. Talbert produced many ice skating shows, some for local charities.
Mrs. Talbert was chairman of the Elementary, Secondary and Continuing Education Committee of the city betterment project Cape Go, a board member of First Exchange Bank, a state officer of the Medical Auxiliary and a member of P.E.O. As a member of the Centenary United Methodist Church, she has taught Vacation Bible School and assisted with charity bazaars.
Dr. Talbert has been an active community member. At Centenary United Methodist Church, he has served as a member of the board of trustees and a Sunday school teacher and has sung in the choir since 1965. He has been a member of the Lions Club, has been active in Boy Scout activities and is an Eagle Scout.
The Talberts have three sons, three grandsons and two granddaughters. They are extremely proud of their sons who have each earned graduate degrees and are recipients of the Eagle Scout award. Two grandsons have also earned Eagle Scout awards, and their youngest grandson recently joined the Cub Scouts. They enjoy traveling with their family and have explored 48 U.S. states and many foreign countries.