Franktown - Baxley Trower Tankard of Franktown died peacefully on January 26, 2013 after a brief illness at Westminster Canterbury in Charlottesville, where he and his beloved wife, Elizabeth, resided part time. A native of the Eastern Shore, he was born on June 27, 1913, the son of Philip William and Florence Mapp Tankard.
Baxley credited a life well lived to his upbringing in Franktown, where he attended the Franktown-Nassawadox High School, worked on the family farm as a young boy, and was a life-long member of the Franktown United Methodist Church.
He graduated from Randolph Macon College in 1935 and received a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1938. He put his career on temporary hold, however, while serving his country in World War II as Commander in the United States Navy.
A self-described country lawyer, Baxley practiced law as it is never likely to be seen again. Mentored by the late Judge Charles M. Lankford, Jr., he hung his shingle at a small office along Lawyer's Row at the county seat in Eastville. There he built his general practice on probate, real estate, and trial work. Unlike today, this was an era when a telephone, a manual typewriter, and carbon paper were all that was needed, and being known and trusted was what mattered more. His passion for the County's historic records was evident on his visits to the Clerk's Office, where he particularly enjoyed title research. His remarkable knowledge of the people and places of the Eastern Shore augmented his ability to effectively navigate generations of land ownership.
Over the course of his distinguished career, he served as Commonwealth's Attorney for 16 years and as legal counsel to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Commission. He was the first attorney for the Eastern Shore's Accomack & Northampton Electric Cooperative, remaining in that capacity for more than 60 years. Complementing his legal career with community service, Baxley was a lifetime member of the local Rotary Club, past-president of the Exmore People's Trust Bank, and past-president of the Northampton-Accomack Memorial Hospital (now Riverside Shore Memorial).
Baxley Tankard closed his practice in August 2012, though he continued to keep office hours until two months ago. His record 74-year tenure with the Virginia State Bar (VSB) was celebrated in October 2012, where colleagues gave testimony to his enduring contributions and legacy. VSB president, W. David Harless, thanked Tankard for his selfless devotion in sharing his time, wisdom, and guidance with all of the judges and lawyers present. And, in tribute to the way Tankard entered his court every time, retired Circuit Court Judge Glen A. Tyler conferred on him the honorific title "Dean of the Bar."
He always delighted in greeting his many friends and acquaintances, inquiring about their wellbeing, and sharing with them news of the day. When not hard at work, he enjoyed "Pine Cove," his home on Warehouse Creek, where clamming, boating, and bird hunting brought him special pleasure. During the college football season, he was an ardent supporter of his alma mater's team, the UVA Cavaliers.
Baxley is predeceased by his first wife, Ann Clark Tankard, and by his brothers, Philip B. Tankard and John R. Tankard. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Elizabeth Butzner Tankard, who enriched their life together with travel as well as cultural and philanthropic interests. He is also survived by his nieces, Patricia T. Cook of Harwich Port, Massachusetts and Pamela E. Tankard of Groton, Connecticut, his nephews, John R. Tankard III of Waban, Massachusetts and Philip W. Tankard II of Stonington, Connecticut, and his grandnieces, Bronwen C. Battaglia of Buffalo, New York and Laura C. Newman of Golden, Colorado.
Burial is private at Franktown Cemetery, followed by a memorial service at the Franktown United Methodist Church on January 30, 2013 at 11 am with Rev. Alex Joyner and Rev. Harry Crandall officiating. Contributions in Baxley's honor may be made to the Eastern Shore Food Bank, P. O. Box 518, Onley, VA 23418, or the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, P. O. Box 17447, Baltimore, MD 21298-9104.
Arrangements were by Holland Funeral Home, Nassawadox.
Published in The Virginian Pilot on Jan. 29, 2013