Tannehill, former LFA head, dies

By Tom Kelly
Editor and Publisher

Charles Tallehill
Charles Lafayette Tannehill, a former president of the Louisiana Forestry Association, Louisiana newspaper owner and editor, and retired New York Life insurance agent, died January 13 in Monroe after a long illness. He was 76.

A memorial service was held Friday, January 16, at St. Luke's Episcopal Chapel in Grambling, where he was a parishioner. His remains were cremated earlier by Kilpatrick Funeral Home in West Monroe.

Mr. Tannehill was a member of a large extended family with ties to both forestry and journalism in Louisiana. He was the son of Murphy and Evelyn Davidson Tannehill of Urania, where he was raised in the shadow of the old Urania Lumber Company. His father was an executive in the operations founded by the legendary Henry Hardtner, called the Father of Forestry in the South. Charles and his identical twin brother, Richard, now a retired physiciam in Baton Rouge, and sister. Charlotte Westbrook, of Tupelo, Mississippi, enjoyed idyllic childhoods in the pine forested hills that surround the small community of Urania that supported the lumber manufacturing and shipping enterprise that later was acquired by Louisiana Pacific company. In recent years, LP ceased operations in Louisiana, sold its timberlands, and the once thriving community of Urania now anticipates the opening of a new forestry relayed enterprise.

Charles served as President of Louisiana Forestry Association in 1983-84, and was active in the recruitment and hiring of the present executive officer, Buck Vandersteen.

One of Charles' uncles was the legendary US Forest Service Ranger for the Winn District, the late George Tannehill. An aunt was the late Miss Estelle Tannehill, one-time owner and publisher of the weekly Winnfield News-American newspaper, merged in the 1950s with the weekly Winn Parish Enterprise.

After high school, where he was active in leadership in the state 4-H Club organization, Charles attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He graduated with a degree in English, and worked briefly as a staff assistant with the Louisiana State Police in Baton Rouge.

His intended career was as an Episcopal priest. Toward that end, he enrolled at the Nashotah House seminary near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the early 1960s. During one of the heavy Wisconsin winters, he contracted pnuemonia, becoming acutely ill as the disease infected the heart lining--a condition that left him with intermittent health problems during the remainder of his life.

In late 1962, Charles had returned to Ruston, his mother's native home, and resided temporarily with his grandmother, Mrs. Leona Davidson. He met and married Janice Ferguson of Ruston, and took his first job as a staff member with The Ruston Daily Leader, first in charge of circulation development, later as an editor and writer. Within a few months, in 1963, Charles was assigned as publisher of the weekly Oakdale Journal in Allen Parish, which at the time was owned by the same group that owned the Ruston paper and others in South Louisiana at Jennings and Crowley. Charles eventually acquired ownership of the weekly at Oakdale, and operated it through the mid-1970s, when he sold it to new owners and returned to become managing editor of the Ruston Daily Leader.

Subsequently, Charles took an opporunity to acquire the New York Life Insurance sales franchise in Ruston, a business he operated until his retirement.

During the recent past, Charles briefly reprised his prized personal column, "The Rosinbelly" in The Piney Woods Journal. However, continuing health problems kept him from keeping it going. The column was based on the name of the World War II home-town newsletter that his father originated, keeping the area military servicemen and women in touch with each other and with home town events. Charles proudly used the title during his years at The Oakdale Journal, and brought it back with him during the final period with The Ruston Daily Leader.

Charles and his first wife, Janice, are the parents of two daughters, Lee Evelyn Tannehill, now of Ruston, and Charlotte Boone and husband Darryl, and a grandson, William Lafayette Boone of Greensboro, North Carolina.