COLLEGE STATION – Dr. T.D. Tanksley Jr. was posthumously inducted into the Animal Science Hall of Fame on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 during the Department of Animal Science External Awards Program. The award was presented by Mr. Chuck Real, Owner and Operator of Real Hog Farms and accepted on behalf of Dr. Tanksley by his wife, Margaret, and their three children, Spence, Janice and Pat.
The son of T.D. and Olivia Tanksley, “Tank,” as he was affectionately known, grew up on the family livestock farm in Burnet County. At age 16 he become an Aggie and was drafted to serve his country in World War II after only completing two semesters of school. After his return, Tank married his high school sweetheart, Margaret McAndrew, in August of 1945.
After graduating as the valedictorian of his class in 1947, he spent 10 years in Llano County serving producers and students first as a Vocational Agricultural Teacher and then as a County Agricultural Agent. His hard work and dedication in the county earned him recognition as one of five outstanding young Texans in 1956. Among the other four honorees that year was George H.W. Bush.
In December 1956, Tank joined the staff of Texas A&M College, now Texas A&M University, in the Animal Science Department as the Extension Swine Specialist while working towards his doctorate degree, which he received in 1968. He went on to hold a rare three-way appointment in the College of Agriculture, the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, and the Texas Agricultural Extension Service. He was named Professor Emeritus of Animal Science, when he retired in 1985.
Dr. Tanksley’s early research resulted in swine-feeding guidelines that were followed worldwide. In other research, he helped build bone strength in boars and determine optimum feed formulas for digestibility. He also pioneered the development of the meat-type hog, which has less fat and more muscle.
Mr. Real said Tank “was the ultimate educator. He had the unique ability to talk with producers at the end of the road that never left the farm helping them solve their problems, but could also talk to researchers on the highest level.” Real also went on to say that Tank’s integrity and work ethic were unmatched.
Dr. Bib Easter, University of Illinois, is a former student of Dr. Tanksley. Easter credits Tank with helping him to determine and establish an educational path that ultimately led him to his current appointment. “Perhaps more important than anything was the extent to which I have been influenced by Tank’s sense of the responsibility that we in the academy have to understand the needs of our state and to implement research and educational efforts that bring pragmatic solutions to real problems,” said Easter.
Regardless of the many teaching, research, and extension awards Tank received, his first love was always livestock shows. Tank was the best-known swine show judge in Texas history, conducting programs throughout the state. In 1997, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo recognized him for 50 years of continuous support as an exhibitor, 4-H and FFA youth advisor and superintendent of the Market Swine and the 4-H and FFA Livestock Judging Contest.
For 30 years the Tanksley’s raised Brahman steers that often topped the consigned cattle sale at the S&S Show Steer and Cattle sale in Taylor. Many of the steers went on to win major show champions. Tank will long be remembered and recognized by many for developing top notch, highly competitive Brahman cross show steers.
In 2011, Dr. Tanksley passed away at his home in Bertram. He left his love for animal science and youth advocacy in the capable hands of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
The Animal Science Hall of Fame celebrates outstanding individuals who, through their exceptional work and achievements, have advanced the field of animal science and made a profound difference to the productivity and sustainability of animal agriculture. Also, they have a record of impressive accomplishments which indicate significant achievements and contributions made to the field of animal science at the state, national and/or international level. The awards committee, made up of Animal Science faculty and advisory committee members, felt that Dr. Tanksley embodied the true spirit this award is based on. It was with much honor and gratitude that Dr. T.D. Tanksley Jr. was inducted into the Department of Animal Science Hall of Fame.
For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please contact Maggie Tucker at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 845-1542.