Virginia Tanksley waited patiently for her son, Jerry, to call. Jerry told his mother he would talk to her after work Friday night. Virginia never received a call.
Sam Houston State University student Jerry Tanksley died Saturday evening after a sixteen-year battle with diabetes. Tanksley was found in his car on Saturday morning by a witness outside his place of employment in Houston who called for assistance.
“I talked to Jerry Friday night and he was fine,” Virginia said. “He said he was getting off work at 11 p.m. and he would be home. When he didn’t make it home, I assumed he went to stay at a friend’s house.”
After a pulse was detected on Tanksley, he was taken to a nearby hospital where he was later pronounced dead at 7 p.m. Officials notified Virginia shortly afterward.
“Jerry is my only child and it’s just the two of us,” Virginia said. “He meant the world to me. When they told me, I was devastated. I was in shock.”As president of the Anime Club and treasurer of the Cosplay Club, Tanksley engulfed himself in Japanese culture and was involved in various school activities.”
The first day we really talked was when we were doing a fight in class,” Cosplay President Rosie Angus said. Angus and Tanksley met two years ago in an Acting I class.
“We were sitting there with swords and I saw his shirt was from an Anime convention. I was like, ‘Hey, there’s an Anime club! You should join.'”According to friends, Tanksley’s fan base was as big as his personality. As a theatre major, he was extremely outspoken and never met a stranger.
“He was the type of guy that would bring life to the party,” Cosplay member Kimberly Miranda said. “He was a unique individual. He was random and impulsive. He was the type of person that if you’re feeling down, he’ll cheer you up.” Miranda recalled a time when Jerry showed off not only his outgoing personality but his legs, as well.
“He wore a skirt one time because he did a drag show for the school,” she said. “It was to raise money to donate the profit to AIDS awareness. It’s kind of clich but he was one of a kind.
“Angus and Miranda were expecting Tanksley to stop by after work to attend a sleepover at Angus’ house.”It was surreal because we were thinking he was going to walk through the door any second,” Angus said. “I feel like if he just would have been here, we would have reminded him to take his shot. We would have known who to call. It’s still such a shock.”
Friends and family members say that Tanksley had a hard time accepting his diabetes and would, many times, pass on taking his insulin shot.”I don’t know if he always took his shot,” Virginia said. “When kids move off to college, you can’t really keep up with everything they do. I like to think he kept up with them.”
Tanksley entered SHSU as a Mass Communications major but it didn’t take long for him to discover his true passion for acting.”He had many private acting lessons as a child,” Virginia said. “He actually had an agent here in Houston with Actors, Etc.”
Services for Tanksley are being held Saturday at the Mount Ararat Baptist Church off Montgomery Road in Houston at 7:00 p.m.
“I know Jerry loved his friends and he would want them to continue to be involved in clubs and activities,” Virginia said. “He would appreciate happy times and he wouldn’t want them to be sad. That’s just the type of person he was.”