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Charles Pressley Roberts Tisdale

Dr. Charles Pressley Roberts Tisdale passed away at home in Bethany on March 17, 2021. He was preceded in death by his parents Rebecca Wright Roberts Tisdale and Thomas Sumter Tisdale of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Charles leaves behind his first wife, Ms. Josephine Rainey Evans Tisdale, with whom he shared daughters Frances Caroline Tisdale of Greensboro and Rainey Tisdale and husband Graham of Boston, Massachusetts. In addition, he leaves behind one beloved grand-child, Frances Ann Moseley of Greensboro. Charles further leaves his second wife, Dr. Laurie Elaine McCollum, of Bethany, and their children, daughter India Elaine Tisdale and son Charles “Truman” Tisdale.

Charles also leaves behind his brother, Thomas Sumter Tisdale, Jr., and wife Nina of Charleston, South Carolina, sister Natalie Tisdale Bergholz and husband Warren of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and beloved cousin, friend and confidante Elizabeth Rhodes of Sumter, South Carolina.

Charles's nephews and nieces included Sumter and Reese Tisdale, Rebecca and Peter Bergholz, Claire-Grace, Sophie, and Lucy-Eliza Lewis, Ethan and John-Everette Webster, and Ronin McCollum.

Charles’ wishes for the distribution of his ashes illustrates his wide-ranging interests and how he committed to his life’s goals. First, he requested that his ashes be dispensed in Orangeburg, South Carolina, where he was born and grew up in the company of a loving family and some lifelong friends. He also asked that a portion of his ashes be scattered at McCollum Farm, where he greatly enjoyed his walks in nature and took many photographs—some published with his poetry-- of the natural beauty he found in his surroundings. Thirdly, he desired that his ashes be distributed at the University of the South at Sewanee, where he and other Tisdale family members matriculated. Charles’ daughter India continues that tradition; like her father she is also a Phi Beta Kappa student and member of the Order of the Gown at Sewanee.

Charles also desired that his ashes be distributed at UNCG, where his 30- year teaching career included time spent as co-founder of the Residential Learning College, Chair of the Faculty Senate, and recipient of the Gladys S. Bullard Award for Service upon his retirement. He was a dedicated teacher who cared deeply about his students and promoted the focus of faculty on teaching as their first priority throughout his career. Moreover, Charles requested that his ashes be scattered at the grave site of his parents in Stateburg, South Carolina, and the family property he shares there with his siblings. Last, he requested his ashes be dispensed at the Basilica Cathedral of Saint -Denis in Paris. Charles’ love of family, nature, poetry, writing, and teaching will continue to affect many in the years to come.

Those who would like to make a memorial contribution should consider the Greensboro Opera. Charles was a great lover of opera, and a contributor himself. There will be a special category in the next playbill in January: In memory of Charles Tisdale.

Charles was greatly loved and will be deeply, deeply missed. Due to Covid-19, the service to honor Charles’s life will be scheduled at later date.

To plant memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Charles Tisdale, please visit our flower store.


Thinking of Dr. Tisdale's family and loved ones during this difficult time. I'm lucky to have known Dr. Tisdale as a student, in a small but impactful way: he warmly welcomed me into a graduate-level class when I was an undergrad, and he always made me feel that I belonged and had as much to contribute as my more senior classmates. I remember his humor and enthusiasm, and how supportive he was of all of us students adapting the class to our interests. I think back frequently to that class and what I learned from him, and I continue to use those lessons in my professional career. His legacy and personality live on through all those who knew him.

Cindy Blanco (BA, English, '06) May 10 2021 9:00 PM

While I didn't have the pleasure of studying under Charles when I was PhD student at UNCG, I did share in his good humor during my time in the department. Somehow we would end up sitting next to each other at Tate Street Coffee House while I was studying and he was drinking good coffee. Farewell to an enlightened soul who made much out of life, studies and his own novels. I'm glad to have known you.

Greg Byrd May 5 2021 12:36 AM

Having only just learned of Charles Tisdale's passing, this tribute comes late to the table. I was a fortunate student under the tutelage of "Dr. T." in the final years of his tenure at UNCG as an English major at the university. I had the great good fortune of offering an introduction on the occasion of Dr. T.'s retirement the year I graduated magna cum laude in the Spring of 2005. An honor indeed! We formed a fast camaraderie, as eager learner of early English literature met the deep and generous well of this professor's mind. We spent many an office hour in exploration and discussion of Chaucer, Beowulf, Sir Gawain, Tolkien, Caedmon, Bede, and much of classical literature. The process of research and inquiry, as well as taking risks with a thesis were supported and advised carefully, and always encouraged. These skills have stayed with me well beyond my academic career and continue to inform my learning and composition style 15 years later. This mutual support continued post graduation, as Dr. T.'s photography and poetry was galleried or presented in community settings. Circumstances of life caused our communication to lapse. I regret not being able to catch up one last time, and send deep condolences to the family and friends. What is remembered, lives. His legacy lives on in the many students and colleagues of his association. He is greatly missed. - Jennifer P. Hansen UNCG Class 2005

Jennifer Paige Hansen Apr 30 2021 9:53 AM

J'aurais voulu pouvoir partager plus de moment avec toi Charles. J'ai beaucoup de chance de t'avoir connu, et ta mmoire restera pour toujours avec moi. Merci profondment de m'avoir tendu la main et ouvert un autre monde lorsque nous nous sommes rencontr en 2015. Merci. Avec beaucoup de tendresse et de reconnaissance, Anne-Louise

Anne-Louise Apr 12 2021 3:50 PM

My heart is broken to learn that my dear "Choby" has passed away. While I haven't seen him in several years, I still cherish my memories of him and your family "back in the day." I think we met at St. Francis Episcopal (although I had Dr. "T" as one of my English professors - and still remember missing an exam question :sleepy: about the significance of "a green scarf," or something similar:joy:), and soon your folks convinced Al and me to become dorm parents at Guilford and Mary Foust dorms at UNCG - along with our Irish Setter dogs. What a trip that was! And then Rainey joined Caroline, which made everything the merrier. I remember reading - and enjoying - Charles's first novel. We had so much fun in those early years - even planning to live as neighbors/family ar "The Settlement." Rainey and Caroline were thrilled when Ashley and David became part of the gang. Then, life just got in the way, and we found ourselves on alternate paths. You probably know that Al died in April after years of living with Parkinson's, so I empathize with your pain of not only losing Charles, but losing him during Covid when the "normal" customs of gathering and grieving are altered. I send you my love, sympathy, and prayers as you mourn the death of Charles. I pray that you will experience God's love and grace as He brings (in time) comfort, peace, and hope. :two_hearts::pray::two_hearts::pray: Brenda Madden

Brenda Madden Mar 26 2021 1:05 AM

Caroline, My condolences to you on the recent passing of your father.I fondly remember your close relationship with my daughter Eleanor Blair during your public school days and visits to our home.I will always keep your entire family in the light. In love. Joe Benson

Joe Benson/Brian Joseph Benson Mar 25 2021 6:57 PM

I grew up in Orangeburg next-door to Charles and adored his parents who we called Aunt Rebecca and Uncle Thomas. They moved to the Charleston area when I was 11, and our families stayed in touch for years. I believe the last time we saw Charles was at Natalies wedding. It is a blessing to know what a creative and purposeful life he led. Our sincerest condolences to this special family. Cathy Carey ( Sister Marlee and Mother Jean )

Cathy Carey Mar 25 2021 5:20 PM

As Charles' colleague in the English Department for 30 years and a fellow medievalist, I borrow Chaucer's words to praise him: "And gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche." Charles was not only a dedicated and inspiring teacher, but also a talented novelist, poet, and photographer. When we were in e-mail contact last fall, he told me he was learning Italian so he could read Dante's Divine Comedy in the original language. Charles would probably want us to remember now the final verse of the Paradiso: "but my / desire and will were moved already--like / a wheel revolving uniformly--by / the Love that moves the sun and the other stars."

Denise Baker Mar 24 2021 4:38 PM

Stanzas from ' Whiteheads Pond ' by Charles Tisdale ( not in order of sequence from poem ) I would be a man in a straw hat, casually dozing, The visions coming so often they consume me And not surprise. Here there is no talk, No interruption to the drift of water lilies Playing their enchanted will upon my mind. A fish jumps. I turn my eye to the splashing, A gesture of acknowledgement, a love of something To be noticed. But there is no change. The pond remains the same, the visions of piecing Together circumstances, a life spent arranging the truth In the afterthought that ties the fisher To the fish, the surface to the deep. A scholar, teacher, poet, a romantic, and a traditionalist. A lover of nature's beauty and uniqueness, a preservationists of his past and present in word, a proud and loving father, a confidant in times of needed support, and mostly, a friend. This is how I will remember Charles. Charles gently moved through life with a quiet enthusiasm, though at times defending causes he was passionate about. He sought the beauty that springs forth in people, in nature. Even though we didn't share the same level of academia, we bonded through our life's experiences, triumphs, achievements or attempts at, as well as sharing our sorrows, regrets, desires, fears, and our passions. We both shared the need to express ourselves creatively ( Charles in word, mine visually ), though through very different eyes and ears. I will miss our intimate talks, reconnecting, sharing our life's journeys, and passing along my light into his darkness to hopefully brighten his day. Bob Nordbruch ' Girl With A Walking Stick ' ( Oil on Canvas Based on Color Photograph RB c. 2002 - First stanza ) The little girl the artist is painting from The photograph is turning to look at him. He cannot read her thoughts. But he is Not in the business of telling a story, only The colors of her clothing, how it alters The tones and tinges of the farm road In front of her, the woods behind her. ( Charles having taken the photograph of India ( 2 or 3 yrs old ) that I fell in love with, asking if I could paint it in my Bob style. )

Bob Nordbruch Mar 24 2021 9:56 AM

Charles was a friend, colleague and guide during the three decades we spent together at UNCG. I recall fondly his persuasive demeanor, especially when arguing for a balance of teaching and research, his effectiveness as Dean of Academic Advising, the ready twinkle in his eye, and his kind voice softened by his South Carolina roots.

Roch C. Smith Mar 24 2021 9:47 AM

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