Charles M. Sackrey Jr.


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 Corp. 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 US 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, Massachusetts and D. Toni Byrd of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania; his son John Henry Sackrey and daughter-in-law Traci Pushkin Sackrey of Sunderland, Massachusetts; his daughter Ponteir Sackrey of Jackson Hole, Wyoming; his son, Gabriel Alexander Sackrey Byrd of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania; 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.
Published on June 7, 2019
Send flowers
in memory of Charles
See more

Obituary published in

Arrangements by


Print Guestbook

A place to share condolences and memories.

Share your condolences and special memories.
The guestbook expires on September 05, 2019.

Select an emblem

13 posts

Linda Overbey
Jun 14, 2019
Charles always treated people like they were worth hearing. He made me feel like he delighted in me, over and above respecting me, even if I was a young Okie kid with little exposure to the big world. How lucky I was, that in those years of wide-eyed excitment, that a man of such kindness and intelligence crossed paths with me. So many happy memories with Charles and Toni! I hear his laughter in my mind's ear!
Nicole & John Faraguna
Jun 13, 2019
Toni, we are so sorry to hear of this great loss, to you and his son and his family but to the community of progressives whom he inspired and mentored. The social justice work he has done and the people he has inspired leave behind an amazing legacy. Peace.
John Gale
Jun 13, 2019
Sincerest condolences, Toni. During my years as a member of the Bucknell faculty, Charles was one of the colleagues I admired and respected the most highly
Janet Seiz
Jun 10, 2019
I'm very sorry to hear this. Charles inspired so many people, in and outside the Bucknell classroom, with his passion for social justice. I feel fortunate to have been a colleague and friend of his for a while in the 1980s, as he fought on campus to protect academic freedom and off campus to defend the rights of workers. I loved his clarity and honesty, his warmth and his inexhaustible sense of humor. He lived a very large life. I'm sure there are many many people who will never forget him. Toni, much love to you.
Alice Reitenbach
Jun 09, 2019
Toni and Gabriel, I just want to say how sorry I am to hear about Charles’ passing. You all held a special place in my heart as a Sunflower family! Charles was always so kind and cheerful. I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers; hold on to the wonderful memories you shared!❤️
Virginia A Smith
Jun 09, 2019
I valued so many things about Charles Sackrey's fierce and loving presence in the world and his indomitable and fearless fight for justice.

What was remarkable about his personal interactions was the way he focused deeply in conversation, leaning in, knitting his brows, and listening passionately and actively. I always felt heard and known.
Lori Ulrich
Jun 09, 2019
Toni, the obit is beautiful. He was an extraordinary man. We all need to follow his example!!
Lori Cover
Jun 09, 2019
Sadress filled my heart today when I read of Charles passing. I was always greeted so kindly when he would come to Sunflower Childcare Center to pick up Gabriel. Toni, you and Gabriel are in my thoughts and prayers. May the wonderful memories live on in your hearts♡
Patsy Raney
Jun 09, 2019
Charles was like the big brother I always wanted. He was my teacher, mentor, and beloved friend. He made me laugh more than anyone I've ever known. To be known and loved by Charles was a deep treasure, one I will always cherish.
Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim
Jun 09, 2019
Charles was one of the most wonderful human beings we have known - so filled with life, love and laughter! We will go into the future with his indomitable spirit at our side and his smile urging us on for the sake of the vibrant Earth community.
John Grim
Jun 09, 2019
there was a wind in the trees
that day we met Charles
alone, in jean clothes, at a table
outside, active for a cause
we were new to Bucknell
and he was known, and we were
directed to him by friendship
even then what blossomed
among us all was always fresh
it danced! And so does Charles
with us all in our whirl and laughter
our song of it all, the wind through it all.
Gary Sojka
Jun 09, 2019
Charles, as a man of conviction, had a greater impact on my life than he probably ever knew. Although I feel we often shared a common vision of how the world should be, we often found ourselves on opposite sides of issues relating to the way we could reach that better place. To this day, when I need to make a decision that could affect others, a little thought creeps into my head, that is, "what would Charles think of that". My own little piece of this space was a better place for Charles having been in it.
Kitty P. Sherwin
Jun 09, 2019
As a member of the family that participated in some of the plays Charles wrote for us, I will always remember the fun we had putting them together. Charles was so comfortable to be around and always had a way to make one feel special. He will be greatly missed.