Dr. Charles James Tesar died Friday, May 14, 2010, in Austin, Texas after a very brief illness. He was an iconic, larger than life personality with a huge laugh, broad shoulders, and a kind heart. He had a way of accepting and appreciating everyone he met.
Charlie was among the first group of Peace Corps volunteers President John F. Kennedy sent to Morocco in the 1960s. It was an inspirational experience that had a lasting effect on his life. He spoke seven languages, had a PhD in Philosophy, and traveled and worked in many countries.
Charlie was born in Fort Worth on June 19, 1943, to Charles Alphonse Tesar of Netolice, Czechoslovakia, and Frances Cecilia Dusek of Sweethome, Texas. He was proud of his Czech heritage.
He obtained his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas, his Master’s degree from the University of New Mexico, and his Ph.D. from the University of Texas. He also studied at San Luis Obispo and in Paris. He was a faculty member at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Education was paramount for Charlie.
He had a passion for everything he did. He reveled in life. He promoted educational and economic development with an emphasis on the empowerment of women and children through education. Charlie’s expertise in educational administration took him to far-flung corners of the globe to train administrators and teachers. His most recent role was Chief of Party for a US AID project for Economic Development in El Salvador. He held posts with groups such as Care International, the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the World Cocoa Foundation, and other governmental and non-governmental organizations. His work took him to four continents and a multitude of countries including Barbados, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua, Haiti, Guatemala, Bolivia, Niger, Nigeria, Namibia, Rwanda, Oman, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, the former Yugoslavia, Albania, Mongolia, and Bulgaria.
Charlie fell in love with world music when he was in the Peace Corps and in 1979 he opened Liberty Lunch, a historic Austin live music venue where many famous bands got their start. Local artists like the Lotions and Beto y los Fairlanes were regulars. Joe Ely, the Wailers, the Neville Brothers, Ricky Nelson, Nirvana, King Sunny Ade, 10,000 Maniacs, KD Lang, Asleep at the Wheel, and the Cowboy Junkies were among the bands that graced the stage at Liberty Lunch.
Charlie leaves his wife and love, Marcia Lucas, owner of El Interior, a Mexican Folk Art and Clothing store in Austin, Texas. For twenty years, Charlie and Marcia traveled together and experienced and celebrated indigenous culture. In the last several years, they led small tours to introduce people to ancient treasures, archaeological sites, and the customs of indigenous people in Meso-America. No matter where Charlie went, he was at home with the people who lived there, as they were with him.
Charlie and Marcia owned an organic fruit orchard in Blanco, Texas. He planted and tended to hundreds of fruit trees on the banks of the Blanco River. In 2008, he was elected to the Pedernales Electric Cooperative Board as a reform candidate and he spent a year at that post.
Charlie had two beautiful children with his first wife, playwright Sheila Ann Carr, who passed away in 1989. He and Sheila met as students at the University of North Texas. In their twenty-year marriage, they shared a passion for education. Sheila also had a PhD in Educational Administration. Their son Charles Joseph Tesar (Chas) and daughter Amy Kathleen Tesar Contreras, both of San Antonio, were the lights of their lives.
In addition to his beloved wife Marcia, children Chas and Amy, and two step-daughters, Lisa Derezin and Alexandra Taketa, Charlie leaves grandchildren who will miss him dearly, Ramon and Elia Contreras, Sage and Mia Derezin, and Skylar Taketa, numerous nieces and nephews, and hundreds of friends and colleagues. His brothers, George Tesar and Louis Tesar, and sister, Marcella Tesar, predeceased him.
Memorial services will be held at the Old Blanco County Courthouse on Saturday, May 29 at 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon. The Old Blanco County Courthouse is located at 310 Main Street in Blanco, Texas (on Main Street between 3rdand 4th Streets in downtown Blanco). In lieu of flowers, we encourage people to plant a tree. Memorial gifts in Charlie’s name can be made to Save Our Springs Alliance (S.O.S), online at www.sosalliance.org or by mail to SOS Alliance, PO BOX 684881, Austin, Texas 78768.