Charlotte Tanksley Ross


Charlotte Tanksley Ross, of Boone, N.C., died peacefully on Easter Sunday 2021. She was with her daughter via Facetime listening to a recitation of one of her favorite stories when she passed. Charlotte was 79 years old and had been in declining health for the last few years.  Born in North Georgia, she was predeceased by her parents, Carl Burke Tanksley and Sue Woody Tanksley, her husband Dr. Carl Augustus Ross Jr., and her brother, Col. David Michael Tanksley.

Charlotte was an authority on the folklore of the Appalachian Mountains and was the Editor of The Bibliography of Southern Appalachia, University of North Carolina Press. She was a protégé of Dr. Cratis Williams. They traveled frequently together to Scotland and Ireland to research the origins of Appalachian culture.Like her mentor, she was an educator and became a renowned storyteller of the region. Charlotte was the curator of the original Appalachian Collection at ASU’s Belk Library in the 1970s. In the 1980s, she was the Western Regional Director for the N.C. Humanities Council overseeing grants for the regional scholars and artists. She was passionate about the Appalachian mountain region and culture and shared that love with her late husband Carl, who was a tenured history professor at Appalachian State University and Director of the Center for Appalachian Studies at the time of his death in 1988. In the 1990s and beyond, Charlotte entertained audiences all over the region. She delighted in telling stories and sharing oral history with school and civic groups and was widely known as “The Legend Lady.” She advised many authors including Sharyn McCrumb, who based the character “Nora Bonesteel” in her “ballad” series of books on Charlotte. She taught at Appalachian State University, East Tennessee State University, Caldwell Community College and the University of Pennsylvania. 

Mrs. Ross is survived by her two children, D. Clarinda Ross Gress, of Los Angeles, and Hyden Tyler Ross, of Atlanta; her son-in-law Francis Gress, Jr.; and her daughter-in-law, Lynn Agnew Ross; her grandchildren, Clara Tyler Gress, Francis Gress III, Carl Augustus Ross Gress, and Carl Tyler Ross. She is also survived by her siblings, Patrick Alan Tanksley and Nancy Tanksley Davis Sitton, of Chatsworth. The family will celebrate her life with a local gathering in June.  Her ashes will be buried next to her husband in her family’s plot in Chatsworth this summer. Her children want to acknowledge Teresa Langlois, C.N.A. II of Boone for her devotion, as well as the women of Caldwell Hospice for their care of Mrs. Ross. A virtual memory book is available at Hampton’s Funeral Service.


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