RMEF Dynasty: Father Passes Chapter Leadership Down to Daughter in Washington
By Wapiti Wire Staff
Nichole Tallman, Ray Markee, Dawn Tallman and Samantha Tallman participate in an RMEF work day.
Eight years ago, Colville Chapter Chair Ray Markee asked his daughter Dawn Tallman and her family to assist with banquet prep by putting together meat and cheese trays. In exchange, he’d buy their dinner tickets. It was the start of a brand new volunteer career.
Tallman is still making those trays, but her commitment to RMEF runs a whole lot deeper these days. Currently serving as chapter chair alongside her dad, she’s stepping up to assume the mantle of chapter leadership.
A life member, Habitat Partner and retired United States Coast Guard master chief, Markee has been volunteering with the Colville Chapter in northeast Washington for over 25 years. He helped setup his first banquet in 1992, became an official volunteer in ’95 and became chapter chair for the first time in ’96. He’s been chapter chair or co-chair for most of the years since. Last year, the time came for Markee to pass down some of those leadership duties. As it turns out, the best person for the job was none other than his own daughter.
“I originally got involved with the Elk Foundation for my dad,” Tallman says. “It was something that he was very proud of and committed to, and I wanted to be a part of that. He is my hero. Of course any girl would want to make her dad proud!”
Tallman had previously served as ticket chair and finance chair, but she says she was surprised when Eastern Washington State Chair Paul Estep encouraged her to follow in her dad’s footsteps. “He came to me and told me he thought I could do the position!” she says. “I was totally taken aback, but our committee was very supportive.”
This year Tallman took over as lead chapter chair, and Markee is assisting as chapter co-chair. He’s teaching Tallman the finer points of the position, and eventually Tallman will take on role as solo chapter chair. So far the transition has been smooth—but definitely a learning experience, Tallman says.
“Thank God my dad co-chaired,” she says of the 2017 banquet. “Every time I turned around he was asking, ‘Did you do this? Have you done this?’ Of course not! I took lots and lots of notes! My dad likes to make sure everything is in line. I can’t imagine doing this all over on my own!”
But Markee is confident Tallman has what it takes to keep the chapter on a successful path.
“I’ll continue to co-chair until Dawn feels she has a firm grasp on the workings of the chapter,” Markee says. “But I’m tired. Over the years I have recruited 12-plus volunteers.”
Tallman has already recruited new volunteers, too, Markee says. She’s helped recruit younger committee members, breathing new life into the chapter, and she also has the technological skills to help move the chapter forward.
Tallman and Markee aren’t the only family members who moonlight as RMEF volunteers, though. Markee’s wife Kyenne Markee was a committed and vital volunteer before her passing. Tallman’s husband Rick Tallman has served as game chair for three years. Their children—Samantha, Nichole and Trevor Tallman—have all been volunteering for eight years, too. And Tallman’s three-year-old grandson Kalvin Tallman has been coming to banquet setups since he was born.
“The whole family participates in various work projects in the state and also attends rendezvous every year. Dawn has even volunteered to do a seminar this year on how to line dance,” says Eastern Washington Regional Director Bill Kenney. “This is a great situation where Ray slowly is passing on leadership but is staying very involved. Dawn’s husband Rick is right there with her, and we get two for one. In addition, Dawn and Rick’s kids are involved.”
Tallman says, “It has been strange seeing my dad step down since he has almost always been the head chair since we have been involved.” But her dad has taught her many leadership skills to help her along the way. “My dad has always been a take-charge type of person, and I guess I got that from him. I have learned you have to be accepting of different opinions, but also stay with the task on hand. Complete what you start and never give up.”
Kenney says the Colville Chapter has flourished under Markee’s leadership—and that’s likely to continue under Tallman’s.
“There’s no better people, no better family,” Kenney says. “No better father-daughter.”