On January 9, 2022, in Phoenix, Arizona, Eddie “Ed” M. Tankersley (“Tank”) reached the end of the washboard road he’d been rattling along since he came kicking into the world nearly 82 years ago.
Ed is survived by his wife of 28 years, Sheryl (“Sher”), his brother, Gary Childers, his 10 children—Ed Tankersley II, Gayel Lapioli, Shelby Shive, Zoe Ziglar, Jay Randall, Bryan Tankersley, Shelly Hattaway, Marcie Ramsey, Tiffany Snyder, and Josh Snyder—as well as 15 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
He was married three times—thus that big batch of offspring—first to Janice Bovee, then to Billie Jean Craig, and for the past 28 years to Sher. He loved—and relentlessly teased—his children and adopted children with equal zeal, and we follow his preference of ignoring those distinctions. We’re all family.
Ed lived a life too full and messy to fit neatly in an obituary, but we couldn’t get away without mentioning his love for music—country, rock, pop, as long as it had some guitars and vocal harmonies. He’d burst into song frequently and without provocation, usually just a couple of lines or maybe a chorus, so most of us who spent any time around him now know dozens of these snippets, even if we’ve never heard the originals. He collected guitars more than he played them, but he always had a music stand with some sheet music that he was picking away at learning.
He loved to drive, and he was legendary for his always revolving collection of sports cars, pickups, motorcycles, and ATVs, all of which he constantly tinkered on or, often, disassembled and abandoned for years on blocks in his backyard. He was always loading whichever family and friends were nearby into his truck to head out on adventures—his favorites included snow skiing, water skiing, mountain biking, dirt bike riding, tearing along desert washes in his side-by-side ATV. He loved to pore over maps, but he never seemed to need one, on or off the road. He always knew the right way to go.
Over the years, Ed played a variety of team and individual sports, including indoor volleyball, racquetball, and fast pitch softball, and he enjoyed coaching several of his daughters in softball. They’ve largely recovered.
Everyone who knew him has a favorite description of Ed, and among the ones we can print are ornery, fun-loving, cantankerous, hard-headed, unique. He didn’t want to “put up with any BS,” but if your car broke down—any day, any time—he’d hitch a flatbed trailer to his pickup and drive 100 miles to get you.
He worked most of his career for Arizona Public Service in Arizona and New Mexico, first as a lineman, then a maintenance supervisor, and ultimately as an instrument repair technician and foreman. He found most of his good friends, golfing partners, and beer-drinking buddies in the power plants where he worked for decades.
Ed was born in Phoenix on January 16, 1940, and he lived in the Phoenix area for 56 of his 82 years, including the last 30 in Fountain Hills. He was the eldest son of Herman Lamar Tankersley and Phylis Cresswell Tankersley. After Herman was killed in WWII, Phylis remarried to George “Si” Childers, who raised Ed as his own son. Ed was predeceased by his younger sister Phyliss (“Sissy”).
A celebration of Ed’s life is planned for late February, where there will no doubt be a spread of his favorites: a large pot of chile, plenty of tamales, cold Budweiser, recorded entertainment by Merle Haggard and the Eagles, and lots of laughter from all who loved him.
Donations in Ed’s name can be made to the American Cancer Society.