Warren M. Tanksley was a builder and craftsman.
He died Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012. He was 98.
Tanksley was the fourth child born to George and Rose McKie Tanksley. He was born July 1, 1914, in Edgefield, S.C where his parents were prominent members of the community. His father George was an aspiring preacher who built and pastored a church in Edgefield. His success led to a fatal incident in which George was forced to defend himself. This necessitated moving the family from South Carolina to Camden, N.J. when Tanksley was two years old.
“Warren’s life was full of elements that could have defeated a person of lesser wit, intelligence and determination,” his family said.
He lost his mother at the age of three. During his youth, he worked alongside his father in his father’s many ventures which included breaking down pre-World War I wooden cargo ships for fire wood, running a printing business, selling real estate, mixing and selling his own perfumes and cosmetics, vending fish and vegetables and pastoring or assisting in pastoring several churches.
The close association with his father taught him the virtues of self-sufficiency and responsibility which he applied to his life and work as a builder, craftsman and parent. He took correspondence courses and learned the intricacies of building, taking care to master to intricate details that earned him high scores on the tests. He mastered the many trades that constitute the repertoire of a master builder such as blueprint reading, surveying and scientific methods of construction.
He became a valuable resource to many family members, teaching them skills, providing them with work and building their houses.
In 1939, Tanksley met and married Anna V. Johnson. The couple had four children. A fifth child, Esther was born prior to his marriage and remained close to her father throughout her life.
In the mid-1980s, when Tanksley was entering his 70s, the architects and engineers planning the building of St. John’s Baptist Church in Camden expressed doubts that the vision the trustees and congregation had for the project could be fulfilled without prohibitive costs. Tanksley applied his knowledge, skill and creativity to the task. The result was a beautiful edifice that is the pride of the congregation and the community.
As his age and failing eyesight deterred him from active construction work, Tanksley continued to be consulted on complex building tasks. Laborers who worked with him were well aware of his ability to discern substandard work on the job.
As the youngest and last surviving member of his siblings, he held the affection of his many nieces, nephews and cousins who never failed to participate in the birthday gatherings that marked his later years.
“He had the love of his children who knew the effort he put into providing for them despite his many challenges,” his family said.
He spent his last years at the York nursing home after years of being cared for in the home of his daughter, Sallie.
He is survived by his daughter, Sallie; sons Warren M. (Bernadette), Richard (Vesta), and Timothy (Carole) Tanksley; grandchildren Warren T., Lonni, Adam, Tanya, and Mykel Tanksley, Douglas (Tami), William (Shaun), and Beryl Tillman, and Alisa (Zackery) Alston; 18 great-grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren; three first cousins, Dorothy Allen of California, Louise Samuels of North Augusta S.C. and Effie Lee Talbert; special caretakers Camille Yelverton and Sonya James Smith; special friend, Joann Jones and other relatives and friends.
Services were held Nov. 10 at St. John Baptist Church, 400 North 30th St., Camden, N.J. Viewing was at 9 a.m. Services followed at 11 a.m.
G. Frank Page Jr. Funeral Home handled the arrangements.