Alfred Lincoln “Al” Tanksley, 69, of Austin, Texas, passed away Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016.
Born Oct. 18, 1946, in Dayton, Ohio, he was the son of Hugh and Loretta Smallwood Tanksley, both of whom preceded him in death. In 1968, he married Ellen “Holly” Feltner, and in 2008 he married Carol Lynne Peters, affectionately known by him as “Little One.” She survives in Austin, Texas.
During his high school years, Al was active in sports. He was such a promising player, the basketball coach for Brownstown Central High School convinced his mother to let him transfer there. During his junior and senior years, his basketball team made it to the sectional finals. He played starting catcher on the high school baseball team. He graduated from Brownstown Central High School in 1964 and majored in business at Indiana University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1967.
Al proudly served his country in the U.S. Army, being honorably discharged in 1973 after two years of active service and then time in the Army Reserves. His primary position was as a cook, and he was known for remembering exactly how each soldier liked his eggs at breakfast. He would look ahead in the breakfast line and prepare each soldier’s eggs just the way he wanted them. He qualified for sharpshooter status on both the rifle and the M14.
“Big Al,” as he was known to many, had a distinguished career in broadcasting spanning more than 45 years. He held on-air positions in various markets such as Orlando, Florida; Louisville, Kentucky; Cincinnati, Ohio; Memphis, Tennessee; and Austin, Texas. He was honored to serve as national commercial radio spokesperson for companies such as Sears and Hull-Dobbs Ford dealerships.
He served as one of the producers of “The Phil Donahue Show” television program during its early years on air. He held various ownership and management positions in several television markets, including Austin, Texas, and Jackson, Mississippi. At one point, he was manager of 11 television stations throughout the eastern and southern United States and Puerto Rico. He spent several years as chief operating officer of Pegasus, a national broadcasting corporation.
Al was instrumental in establishing the Legends of Golf tournament at Onion Creek Country Club in Austin, Texas. He was known for the personalized and entertaining way he announced the legendary players as they came to the first tee.
He was the local Austin producer and on-air talent for the Jerry Lewis MDA telethon for many years. As a result of his broadcasting activities, he was able to personally get to know numerous regional, state and national politicians, media personalities, sports figures and entertainers.
He was baptized as a boy at Tampico Baptist Church. He served as Sunday school superintendent and sometimes traveled to preach in surrounding Baptist churches on Sundays. His Christian faith and love for God again became his guiding force during the final decade of his life, and he was especially honored to see his children and grandchildren practicing their Christian faith.
Big Al’s unmistakable radio voice became the signature sound of the Gospel Express Radio Show in southeast Texas, bringing it to be the No. 1 radio program across all formats in several counties. He became personal friends with numerous gospel music groups, and he produced and emceed the weekly live “East Texas Gospel Jamboree” for several years before moving back to Austin in 2010.
He became singularly responsible for getting his second wife on the air, and he co-hosted the syndicated “Dr. Carol Radio Show” with her for more than five years.
Some of Al’s favorite things included Texas Longhorn sports, golf, Blue Bell ice cream, fishing and his four grandchildren. His high school buddies remember him as a great role model and a friend. His co-workers and employees remember him as setting the bar high, which helped them rise to their best potential.
Professionally, he was known as an innovator, being among the first to apply various technologies to different areas of broadcasting. His sons remember him as a father who valued them and loved spending time with them. Everyone who knew him attests to his generous character.
Other survivors include two sons from his first marriage, Todd (Michelle) Tanksley of Cedar Park, Texas, and Brian (Suzi) Tanksley of Round Rock, Texas; four grandchildren, Andrew, Addyson, Connor and Madelyn; and a brother, Bob (Carol) Pope of Brownstown.
Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by a brother, Joe Pope.
The funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Beck Funeral Home in Cedar Park, Texas. Interment will follow at Bagdad Cemetery in Leander, Texas.
Guests are invited to meet with the family at the Mason Homestead, 1101 S. Bagdad St., Leander, Texas, after internment.
Online condolences may be made at beckchapels.com.