March 22, 2013

Feature obituary: Charles Tarkinson, 91, first WMTW news anchor

By Melanie Creamer mcreamer@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

FALMOUTH – Charles G. Tarkinson, who anchored WMTW's first television news broadcast when it went on the air in 1954, died early Friday. He was 91.

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Charles Tarkinson

Provided photo

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Each day the newsroom selects one obituary and seeks to learn more about the life of a person who has lived and worked in Maine. We look for a person who has made a mark on the community or the person's family and friends in lasting ways.

Mr. Tarkinson joined the television station in 1954 and anchored its Tri-State News at 6 p.m. on weekdays.

A sales flier from the 1950s said Mr. Tarkinson "delivers the news in a distinctly authoritative style that makes him easily the top news reporter in Northern New England."

Mr. Tarkinson's family said he left WMTW in 1962 and took a job as news anchor for WGAN, now WGME Channel 13. He co-anchored the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. news with Harry Marble.

"(News) was a big part of his life," said Linda Carey, the oldest of his four children. "He loved it."

Mr. Tarkinson left WGAN in 1970 to pursue a career in the insurance industry. He served as vice president of Bradish Young Insurance Co. and sold home, life, disability and auto insurance. He retired in 1987.

Carey said her father was well-respected in the industry.

Mr. Tarkinson rose to success from humble beginnings. He grew up in Lowell, Mass., the son of Armenian immigrants. He didn't learn to speak English until he was 5 years old.

He graduated from Lowell High School and attended Tufts University. While there, he felt a calling to become a minister. He attended the Bangor Theological Seminary, but after two years there, he realized his heart was in broadcasting.

Mr. Tarkinson worked for WHDH and WBZ radio in Boston for eight years.

In 1944, he married Barbara Tarkinson, his loving wife for 68 years. The couple raised four children.

He was remembered by his children Friday as a devoted husband and father, who worked hard to provide a good life for his family. His daughter reminisced about the years they cut down their own Christmas trees.

"He grew up never having a Christmas tree," Carey said. "He wanted the best for us."

Mr. Tarkinson was an active member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Portland. The minister told the family "he was a pillar of the church."

Carey spoke fondly of her parents' life together.

She said they had a passion for golf and were longtime members of Riverside Golf Club and the Purpoodock Club.

Mr. Tarkinson was active in the Masons for more than 50 years. He was an honorary 33rd degree for Scottish Rite, a past Sovereign Prince of Scottish Rite and a Past Master of Triangle Masonic Lodge No. 1 in Portland.

About nine months ago, Mr. Tarkinson went to live at the Maine Veterans Home in Scarborough. A few months later, his wife moved to the Inn at Village Square in Gorham. Carey said she took her mother a few times a week to see him.

"It brightened their days," she said. "My father would smile and walk toward her with his arms open. He truly adored her."

On Friday morning, three of his children broke the news to his wife that he had died.

"She, of course, broke down and started crying. She will miss him," Carey said. "After 68 years, Dad's eyes would still light up when he saw my mother. We should all be so lucky."

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

mcreamer@pressherald.com

 

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