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Charles Sackrey

The campus community mourns the passing of Charles Sackrey, who died on Saturday, June 1. Charles retired as Professor Emeritus of Economics after 23 years of service to Bucknell.

Included below is the complete text of the obituary, as provided by the family.

You are encouraged to visit our In Memoriam Site at and share personal notes of sympathy and remembrance with others.

On behalf of our entire University community, I extend our deepest sympathies to Charles’s family, as well as to all who knew him at Bucknell.

John C. Bravman

Charles M. Sackrey Jr., 82, died Saturday, June 1, 2019, of complications from advanced stages of dementia.

He was a Texan and a high school dropout who joined the United States Marine Corps and went to the University of Texas on the GI Bill. Charles studied economics because a friend gave him the books for free and read his first novel when he was in graduate school. He received his Ph.D. in economics in 1965.

He married Patricia Lewis in 1960. They divorced and later he and D. Toni Byrd became partners for the rest of his life.

Charles was an inspirational teacher, a radical economist, a social justice and environmental activist and community organizer, a man of moral courage and conviction, and an authentic and loyal friend to many. He was fearless, honest, generous and lived simply. He taught at Ithaca College, Smith College, Hampshire College, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Tulsa and finally Bucknell University. Among other courses, he taught Principles of Economics, History of Economic Thought, Classical Marxism, and Theatre and the Economy, the latter an attempt to bridge the gap between economic analysis and actual people’s lives. He retired in 2002, and in retirement founded Mondragon in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, a cooperatively run used bookstore which continues after him.

He wrote The Political Economy of Urban Poverty, (1973), Strangers in Paradise: Academics from the Working Class with Jake Ryan, (1984), and An Introduction to Political Economy with Geoffrey Schneider and Janet Knoedler (first published in 2000). The Phoenix, a literary magazine edited by James Cooney, published two short stories he wrote: “United States Marines” (1975) and “American Fellow Travellers” (1976). Charles edited his own literary magazine, The Westbere Review, from 1977 to 1982.

Charles was a master of irreverent humor. He loved a good time — dancing, joking, playing the slot machines and spending time with friends and family. He wrote plays that were performed by family, friends and colleagues; lyrics to songs; a novel which he said “now sits in my attic suffering the gnawing criticism of the mice.” He regularly wrote letters to the editor and was on the publications committee of Organizations United for the Environment.

He was arrested many times for committing acts of civil disobedience in efforts, among others, to stop the construction of nuclear power plants, a hazardous waste incinerator and to end the Vietnam War. He could also be seen in weekly vigils outside the Lewisburg Post Office protesting undeclared U.S. wars.

Charles received many honors and awards during his life including, the Clyde Peeling Critical Thinking Award from the ACLU, the Robert Ingersoll Forward Thinking Award from the Susquehanna Valley Progressives, the Isabel and Karl Patten Award from Lewisburg Prison Project, the Virginia Travis Leadership in Social Justice Award from Bucknell University, and service and leadership awards from the NAACP chapter at the United States Penitentiary at Lewisburg.

He is survived by his sisters, Nancy Bannister of Austin, Texas, and Lillian McNeill of Texas City, Texas; the two women to whom he was married, Patricia Lewis of Westhampton, Mass., and D. Toni Byrd of Lewisburg; his son, John Henry Sackrey and daughter-in-law, Traci Pushkin Sackrey of Sunderland, Mass.; his daughter, Ponteir Sackrey of Jackson Hole, Wyo.; his son, Gabriel Alexander Sackrey Byrd of Lewisburg; his grandchildren, Zoe, Grace, Oliver, Georgia and Ben; many nieces and nephews; and many of his students who continue to be influenced by his love of learning.

In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his son, Bill Sackrey.

In lieu of donations, Charles would encourage his fellow citizens to work for the causes in which he believed: social, economic and environmental justice.

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