College educator sought equality

Retired BCCC chief active in community, known as a mentor

Charles G. Tildon Jr.

1926 - 2007

December 16, 2007|By Tyeesha Dixon | Tyeesha Dixon,Sun reporter

Charles G. Tildon Jr., the civic activist whose vision of racial equality and educational opportunity carried him to the presidency of Baltimore City Community College and beyond, died yesterday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Towson after a three-year battle with prostate cancer. He was 81.

Mr. Tildon, who chaired the political action group Marylanders Organized for Responsibility and Equity (MORE), was also a founder of BLEWS, the Black/Jewish Forum of Baltimore - one of many community interests that kept him active after he retired from his college post in 1985.

"One of his main ambitions in life was to try to improve the human condition of people," said Louise Tildon, his wife of 49 years. "He believed that there should be equality among all people regardless of color."

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat who regarded Mr. Tildon as a longtime mentor, said the retired educator was dedicated to helping his fellow man.

"He saw his life as a vessel to help other people, and I don't know how much more you could leave," Mr. Cummings said. "He not only had a vision that the world could be better, [but] he took that vision and turned it into a mission."

Mr. Tildon was born in West Baltimore, the son of Esrom Elizabeth Tildon, a teacher, and Charles G. Tildon Sr., a minister.

Mr. Tildon graduated from Frederick Douglass High School and received a degree in biology from Morgan State College, now Morgan State University.

According to his son, Charles G. Tildon III, Mr. Tildon taught middle school science in Baltimore City, then became associate director of Provident Hospital. He served as executive director of the Maryland Service Corps, then as assistant secretary of the Maryland Department of Human Resources. He became president of Baltimore City Community College in 1982, a post from which he retired in 1985.

Long active in community and civil rights affairs, Mr. Tildon was a parishioner of St. Gregory the Great Church in West Baltimore, where he helped create the Sandtown-Winchester Senior Center.

He became one of the first black trustees of the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1969 and served on the board of St. Agnes Hospital. He was also active in the affairs of the Associated Black Charities.

A longtime member of the Club of Baltimore, a group of African-American educators formed more than 76 years ago as an investment club and fraternal organization, Mr. Tildon co-edited a collection of essays titled Clairvoyance: Reweaving the Fabric of the Community for Black Folk.

He was also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, active in national and local committees.

Cecil Bray, who like Mr. Tildon was a member of the Club of Baltimore, said one of his fondest memories of Mr. Tildon was of a club retreat some years ago in Mount Joy, Pa., where Mr. Tildon would wake up in the morning and milk cows with his family.

"He was curious about everything," said Mr. Bray. "He was a very gifted man with a very keen intellect and insight."

Others remembered Mr. Tildon as a mentor and source of guidance.

"One of the things I loved about Charlie was that in creating and being a leader of the BLEWS, he found a way to carry out one of his greatest passions," said Mr. Cummings, reading from a journal entry he said he made when he learned of Mr. Tildon's death.

"That passion was to bring people together no matter what their race, color or gender so that they could realize that they could work together and bring out the very best in each other."

Mr. Tildon's son, known as Chuck, said that until he went away to college, every Christmas Eve he would venture to malls and shops with his father for last-minute gifts.

He said he remembers going to a dress boutique on Charles Street, where his father asked a woman who was about his mother's size to try on outfits to see how they fit.

"My Christmas Eves with my father are some of the richest memories I can ever have," the younger Mr. Tildon said. He also remembered the surprise road trips his father would take him on to Hershey Park and NASCAR races when he was a child.

"He was a man who helped other people, and that's what he built his life on. And he never asked for anything in return. He always said that it's just the right thing to do. He felt like it was his calling. ... He was the best father anyone would ever wish for."

A funeral Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Friday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St.

Besides his wife and son, Mr. Tildon is survived by two grandchildren.

Mr. Tildon's younger brother, J. Tyson Tildon, a neuroscientist who retired from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, died of cancer last year.

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