Charles M. Sackrey, Jr., 82, died on Saturday, June 1, 2019, of complications from advanced stages of dementia.
He was a born in Sacramento, California on July 19, 1936, to Melvin and Anece (Swearingen) Sackrey. Charles was raised in Austin, Texas, where he attended McCallum High School and played football, basketball and baseball. After high school, and a stint at the local community college, Charles joined the United States Marine Corp. and subsequently went to the University of Texas on the GI Bill.Charles found an inspiring economics department at UT and thrived there until he received his Ph.D. in 1965.
In 1960, while still a young student at the University of Texas, he married Patricia Lewis of Austin and adopted both of her young sons as his own.Their daughter, Ponteir, was born in 1961. Charles and Patricia divorced in 1973 and later he and D. Toni Byrd became partners in life and had a son, Gabriel, in 1995.
Charles was an inspirational teacher, a radical economist, a social justice and environmental activist and community organizer, a man of moral courage and conviction, and an authentic and loyal friend to many.He was fearless, honest, generous and lived simply. He taught at Ithaca College, Smith College, Hampshire College, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Tulsa and finally Bucknell University. Among other courses he taught Principles of Economics, History of Economic Thought, Classical Marxism, and Theatre and the Economy, the latter an attempt to bridge the gap between economic analysis and actual people’s lives. He retired in 2002, and in retirement founded Mondragon in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, a cooperatively run used bookstore which continues after him.
He wrote The Political Economy of Urban Poverty, (1973), Strangers in Paradise: Academics from the Working Class with Jake Ryan, (1984), and An Introduction to Political Economy with Geoffrey Schneider and Janet Knoedler, (first published in 2000). The Phoenix, a literary magazine edited by James Cooney, published two short stories he wrote: United States Marines (1975) and American Fellow Travellers (1976).Charles edited his own literary magazine, The Westbere Review, from 1977 to 1982.
Charles was a master of irreverent humor.He loved a good time – dancing, joking, playing the slot machines and spending time with friends and family. He wrote plays that were performed by family, friends and colleagues; lyrics to songs; a novel which he said “now sits in my attic suffering the gnawing criticism of the mice.” He regularly wrote letters to the editor and was on the publications committee of Organizations United for the Environment. In his later years, Charles loved nothing more than to take road trips and share his love of old rock and roll music (Dylan, Jerry Lee Lewis or Elvis) with his young son, Gabriel, and to spend hours with his grandchildren rolling out Play-doh and picking peaches in Sunderland, MA or traveling to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to be with his daughter and granddaughters in the mountains.
Charles received many honors and awards during his life including, the Clyde Peeling Critical Thinking Award from the ACLU, the Robert Ingersoll Forward Thinking Award from the Susquehanna Valley Progressives, the Isabel and Karl Patten Award from Lewisburg Prison Project, the Virginia Travis Leadership in Social Justice Award from Bucknell University, and service and leadership awards from the NAACP chapter at the United States Penitentiary at Lewisburg.
He is survived by his sisters, Nancy Banister of Austin, Texas and Lillian McNeill of Texas City, Texas; the two women to whom he was married, Patricia Lewis of Westhampton, Massachusetts and D. Toni Byrd of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania; his son, John Henry Sackrey and daughter-in-law, Traci Pushkin Sackrey of Sunderland, Massachusetts; his daughter, Ponteir Sackrey of Jackson Hole, Wyoming; his son, Gabriel Alexander Sackrey Byrd of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania; his grandchildren, Zoe, Grace, Oliver, Georgia and Ben; many nieces and nephews; and many of his students who continue to be influenced by his love of learning.In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his son Bill Sackrey.
In lieu of donations, Charles would encourage his fellow citizens to work for the causes in which he believed: social, economic and environmental justice.
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