TALL IN THE SADDLE
Horseman, philanthropist and steadfast friend Roxanne Tallman died September 25 after a long bouth with cancer. She was 73.
Tallman was the owner of Hidden Creeks Ranch in Bishop, the boarding home for scores of area horses. Her eldest daughter Amanda will inherit the operation.
Tallman is also the namesake for the Tallman Pavillion at the Tri-County Fairgrounds.
Roxanne was adopted at birth by Martha and Jack Rosenberg of Beverly Hills.
She was raised as an only child. Her father, a professional investor, had two children from a previous marriage.
But Beverly Hills was not what shaped young Roxanne. Rather, she was shaped by Arcadia, where her family owned property, near Santa Anita racetrack. Her father owned racehorses.
As Roxanne explained in an interview conducted last June at her Bishop residence, “It was a different era. Kids had a lot of freedom and did a lot of growing up on their own.”
There were no such things as helicopter parents. Mom and Dad traveled and socialized frequently, so Roxanne spent a lot of time on her own. And as she said, “The barn was my refuge … Horses are the best therapy you can ask for as a child. Every child should have a pony – if you can afford it. Because when you teach riding, you teach responsibility.” And riding is just part of it. “Horsemanship is learning about the animal. When you get on a horse, you should be able to feel what’s going on.”
At Eaton Canyon, which had a riding stable, in Altadena, she met her lifelong friend Marilyn Durazzo. And as Marilyn said this week, “I was closer with Roxanne than my two sisters. She had a generous, loving heart. So full of fun. So iron-willed. And she just knew how to do things. All kinds of stuff. And she knew how to do it all correctly.
The running joke between mom and dad, recalls youngest daughter Kristen, was that anything could be fixed with duct tape and zip ties.
“A problem was never a problem,” added Kristen. Mom believed it’s all solvable. there’s always a way to get things done, and giving up was never an option. She had no patience for quitters.
And “If you’re stuck, ask” was one of her mantras.
“I may not be an A student,” Roxanne herself said, “but I’m a MacGyver.”
*Unstated: She didn’t suffer fools who didn’t ask and did things incorrectly.
There was great freedom in Roxanne’s adolescence. She often spent entire summers at Eaton Canyon while her parents traveled. And so much of it was … free riding. “In the old days, you took care of your horses,” recalled Roxanne. “You didn’t have grooms. There weren’t specific arenas and jumps. You’d invent your own obstacles. Whatever was around, we would jump it, so long as there was a half-decent landing.”
In her 20s, Roxanne started her own business training show horses and running events.
That was also when she met her husband Chuck. She had gone on a ski club trip to June Mountain and broken a ski. Back home, she wandered into the Holiday House, a ski shop in Pasadena, to get it fixed. The owner was named Chuck Tallman. And he fit the description. He was 6’5”.
The couple had an almost perfectly integrated lifestyle, as the timing of their interests made their marriage successful. He had the freedom to help Roxanne during the summers with her horse schedule, and she had the opportunity to help him in the winters with his ski business.
In the spring, they’d rent a house in Indio for two months for the horse shows, which were a scheduling Rubik’s Cube. It was generally planned a year out. You had to be organized. “I very much believe in structure,” said Roxanne.
In the winters, Chuck would bring a team from Mt. Waterman up to race in Mammoth, and his mother had a house here. That’s how Roxanne grew to know the area.
One thing about Chuck and Roxanne – they were indefatiguable. There was always something going on. The shows. The skiing. Summer trips to the river (in Blythe) house for waterskiing. They had fun. And Roxanne just loved a party. Whether she was throwing it or attending it.
Fiddlin’ Pete Watercott recalls that their friendship developed when Pete and Neil Gelvin were having their regular Pokonobe concerts at Lake Mary. Roxanne would always have a full table with her. “She liked to get people together,” said Watercott. Whether it was a spontanenous camp out at Bishop Creek, or putting up a tent at Millpond Music Festival every year so that the Altrusa volunteers who worked the gate would have a place to relax. Or her annual spring parties for the Mammoth Mountain host program.
Speaking of bringing people together, she had a hand in putting together a few marriages – including that of the Durazzo twins Marilyn and Margaret. Marilyn met her future husband on a ski outing with Roxanne, and Margaret met her future husband while on vacation with Chuck and Roxanne.
She brought people together.
What does Mule days do? Millpond? Why would she decide to sponsor the new building that then-Tri-County Fairgrounds CEO Jim Tatum had proposed?
Same idea. Bringing people together.
“She loved giving back to the community. She figured she was able to, and she wanted to,” said daughter Kristen.
Roxanne was also the 2014 Mammoth Lakes Foundation “Founder of Year” and has been a Diamond Partner since 2001
Eldest daughter Amanda is a bit of a chip off the old block. Like her mother, she has a passion for coaching and helping others. When reached this week, she was in Colorado a teaching trip.
“It’s hard to be out of town right now,” she admitted, “but this is where mom would want me to be.”
Of Amanda, Roxanne said she spends most of her time on the road buying and selling horses. “And whenever she sells a horse, it’s perfect.”
Amanda will take over the ranch and legacy, though she’s not quite the party animal mom was. Amanda went to culinary school, and describes herself as “more of a back-of-the-house type.”
“I need to find someone for the front-of-the-house,” she said with laugh.
Amanda says she feels blessed by the outpouring of love and support from the Bishop community.
Youngest daughter Kristen Martucci lives with her husband Mark and two girls Charlie (13) and Morgan (11) on a ranch in Prescott, Ariz.
The whole family rides.
Roxanne and her husband bought Hidden Creeks Ranch in 2003.
After Chuck sold his ski shop in the early ‘90s, he worked for the E-Z Up (they’re ubiqitous now) corporation. He retired in 2004. Four months later, he died of a massive coronary at the age of 60.
But Roxanne was never alone in Bishop. In fact, it turns out she had family here. Chuck Tallman shares the same ancestor who first came to the United States with … Vivian Patterson.
Vivian and Dave Patterson shared dinner with Roxanne and Amanda just three days before she passed.
*Per Amanda, a celebration of life will take place on October 24 at the ranch form 12-6 p.m. It’ll be a Covid-aware gathering. Fortunately, there’s a lot of space. Call/text Amanda’s phone at 619.726.9046 if you’d like to contribute a memory via a recording, There will also be a slideshow.