Tisdale remembered as a ‘staunch patriot, humorist’

Published 5:50 pm Friday, August 19, 2011

A Greenville civic club remembered and honored one of its long-time members with a special program Thursday.

Col. Earl Tisdale, who passed away from cancer June 9 at age 90, was recalled by fellow Greenville Rotary Club members as a “staunch patriot with a commanding presence, a keen professional and a great humorist” during their meeting.

With the meeting room decorated in All-American red, white and blue courtesy of City Clerk Sue Arnold and Rotarian Dr. Jean Thompson, guest of honor Linda Vandenbosch Tisdale, Tisdale’s widow, listened as Walter Ray Parmer, Ricky McLaney, Thompson, Arnold and William Johnson shared anecdotes about “the colonel.”

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“I remember the first time I saw him at one of the Lions Memorial Day events in the park,” said Parmer.

“I saw this older gentleman in his full uniform, so stately, upright with a real military presence . . . we bonded as fellow veterans and Rotarians. He had a philosophy to keep things simple, but do it correctly the first time.”

Ricky McLaney, who shared some tidbits from a interview the colonel did in 2010, recalled one of Tisdale’s patriotic pro grams about the stars arriving, state by state, on the American flag.

“It was one of the most memorable programs we ever had and very entertaining,” McLaney said. “And of course, he had been in all 50 of the states.”

Thompson remembered Tisdale as a dear friend who was “positive, optimistic, and cheerful.”

“When he spoke to you, he made you feel like you were the only person in the world,” Thompson said. “It amazed me how he could still wear his uniform. Not many of us would be able to still do that.”

Johnson recalled a man who commanded respect, a stickler for protocol, who was nonetheless always a gentleman. “He told me to call him ‘Earl’ and I tried. Couldn’t do it, but I appreciate him telling me that,” he admitted.

“His country, his family, Rotary and his fellow man meant so much to him. And I think we can say Col. Tisdale meant so much to his family, Rotary and his fellow man. So many of us are better off because of him.”

Recalling one of the last photos taken of the proud veteran during the May 30 Memorial Day event in Confederate Park, Johnson said, “I remember that determined look on his face. We didn’t know he was in the last stages of cancer. But we knew he was going to make it down that Walk of Honor no matter what. He was a disciplined man and he expected it in others.”

Johnson presented a special memorial plaque to Mrs. Tisdale while Rep. Charles Newton read and shared a resolution, sponsored by Sen. Bryan Taylor and signed by the Governor Robert Bentley, which honored the Colonel as a valued member of the community with a great legacy of leadership and patriotism.

Rotary President Dr. Jim Krudop recalled Tisdale as a “truly guy.”

“We’ve had so much fun sharing all these memories of him today,” he said.

A number of City of Greenville employees, many of whom had worked with Mrs. Tisdale during her tenure as city clerk, also attended.

“The Colonel was like part of our family, too,” recalled Arnold.

“We all loved him.”