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Charles H. Tankersley (1933 - 2022): In Remembrance

by David Pardue (kalwisti)

I recently learned of the death of one of our longtime PCLinuxOS forum users. Charles Henry Tankersley passed away on February 16, 2022, at age 88. Mr. Tankersley registered as a PCLinuxOS forum member on May 28, 2007, with the username chtank.

Charles was born on March 30, 1933, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. His father, Benjamin, was a laboratory and radiology technician; his mother, Westlynn, was a registered nurse. He spent his early childhood years in Bethany and Duncan, Oklahoma. He became fascinated with the physical sciences; in his partial memoirs, he writes that "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to know what made things work."

The most detailed reminiscences and (mis)adventures are found in "Hatched in Oklahoma." Frequently told with self-deprecating humor, these anecdotes give readers a taste of life during the Dust Bowl period. Charles's family moved around a bit; in addition to Oklahoma, they lived for seven years in San Antonio, Texas and Charles spent his adolescence in Kensington, Maryland (a suburb of Washington D.C.).

Mr. Tankersley proudly served his country during the Korean War, in the U.S. Army Medical Corps (1953 - 1955). After his discharge from the military, he attended the University of Central Oklahoma (Enid, OK), majoring in chemistry and physics.

Charles followed the career path of an engineer. He worked in the Petrochemical Division of Parsons Engineering for almost 37 years (1961 - 1998), eventually earning a promotion to Principal Mechanical Designer. This led to his first exposure to AutoCAD design and drafting software, and to personal computers -- at age 62! Mr. Tankersley aptly describes this "transition" in his own words:

    I retired from Parsons Engineering Corporation on April Fool's Day in 1998, the significance of which escapes me. Too late, I found that my wife had saved up a lifetime of honey-do's for me. I may need to go back to work just to rest up.

    I was trained in the old school of engineering design, that is, I did all my calculations and documentation manually. Several years before I retired, while leading a crew on a client's site, the client supervisor called me to his office. He told me; "Tank, you are a dinosaur! From now on all our documentation and records will be digitized and stored electronically on the computer. We are entering the paperless society." I was promised to be trained. A computer was placed before me and I was told to use it. I was left to do my own "training". What I know of the computer, whether right or wrong, is self-taught. What a monster they created!

    Although I am somewhat computer literate, I am not a programmer, nor do I have any desire to learn any more than is necessary to use this machine. I will help other "dinosaurs" who are in my position if I can. Ask -- I will do what I can. I use the computer as a tool, not a toy. The computer is one of the best communication and working tools yet developed by mankind. As such it allows me to use the computer as a THINKTANK where I might "chase the elusive dreams" of my youth. I have been able to complete my move to RootsWeb and the Homestead website is now closed.

So he set about learning Microsoft Windows, AutoCAD and HTML to create his personal websites. At some point, he joined the Houston Area League of PC Users (HAL-PC). Like many of us have experienced, Charles found that the more he used Windows, the more dissatisfied he became with the OS. Tired of the ongoing problems and system bloat, he heard about Linux -- in particular, PCLinuxOS. Texstar and a friend kindly paid a visit to Mr. Tankersley's house in the Spring Branch area of Houston, to install PCLinuxOS release P.94 in a dual-boot setup with his Microsoft PC. Charles discovered that Linux fulfilled all his computing needs; he switched exclusively to PCLinuxOS around 2012.

I admire Mr. Tankersley's tenacity and commitment to lifelong learning. He wrote: "I am retired, and free to know for the sake of knowing. To do those things that I dreamed of as a boy. The flames of curiosity still burn brightly. . . . I am also dedicated to promoting universal education as a God-given human right. It is self-evident that the only purpose for human existence on this earth is to learn." In addition to his interest in computers, Charles devoted time to genealogy and conducted independent research on renewable energy. He enjoyed reading on the Kindle app; he mentioned that his library mainly consisted of physics texts, classic English literature (Chaucer, Shakespeare), Edgar Allan Poe and philosophy (Plato, Aristotle).

Mr. Tankersley is survived by a son, five stepdaughters, numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

R.I.P., chtank. We will miss your presence.

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