Longtime YC Library Director Passes Away
Charles Van Baucom, 76, passed from this life Friday, October 6, 2006 and was laid to rest in the Miami Cemetery in Roberts County, Texas, with Larry Gill officiating. Born January 7, 1930, in Lefors, Texas, to Clovis Autry "Jack" and Lallie Doreen Webb Baucom, Charles is survived by an uncle Verner Webb of Amarillo, Texas, three aunts, Marie Gill and Joyce Moore both of Miami, Texas, and Mildred Baucom Penney of Houston, Texas.
Charles received his B. A. from Abilene Christian College in 1952, a M. A. in history in 1956 and a M. A. in library science in 1965 both from Texas A & M University - Commerce. He was a printer for 10 years then an English teacher at Ackerly, Stamford and Wall, Texas. He was also librarian for the Tom Green County Library in San Angelo, Texas and for East Texas State University.
He served as the Director of Levitt Library at York College from 1964-1996 and continued serving as the Director Emeritus and Archivist until his retirement. He moved to Merkel, Texas in 2002.
The following article about Mr. Baucom appeared in the YC Panther Press upon his retirement.
The End of an Era: Charles Baucom to Retire
By Chrystal Duquette
Panther Press, October 10, 2002
“I look forward to going, but it will sure be hard to leave,” said Charles Baucom, Director Emeritus of Levitt Library. Baucom has worked for York College for the last 38 years. He will be retiring to Merkel, Texas, leaving York on Oct. 14.
Baucom was raised at Boles Children’s Home in Quinlan, Texas. He went to Abilene Christian College where he majored in history, with minors in English and Education. He taught for six years in the public schools, before becoming an Acquisitions Librarian and an instructor at East Texas State University.
He moved to York in September, 1964, where he served as Library Director for 32 years. During this time, he earned two Master’s degrees from Texas A&M, one in History and the other in Library Science. When he developed Parkinson’s disease and lost some of his mobility, he became the Director Emeritus and College Archivist, working from his home with the assistance of work-study students.
Baucom has fond memories of YC and the many students he has come in contact with in the last 38 years.
“It seems that some things students do just repeat themselves over the years,” he said, relating tales of couples who were “sweet on each other” and the mischief some students could get into.
“Some of the stories I have, I couldn’t tell!” said Baucom, laughing. “My oddest experience was when the library was in McGehee,” said Baucom. He had been working late on a Friday night after the library had closed and thought he was alone in the building. He got a terrific scare when he stumbled upon a student that had broken into the library and hidden under a desk for an hour, waiting for Baucom to leave.
“I thought I was seeing a ghost!” said Baucom. The student would not say why he was in the library, but there had been other incidents of people using the library telephone to make long-distance calls.
Although Baucom has not had much contact with students in the last few years, he has had a lasting impact on this campus. In 1990, students honored him by dedicating the centennial yearbook to him as thanks for his many years of service.
“Just about everything I know about the library, Mr. Baucom taught me,” said Ruth Carlock, Assistant Director of Levitt Library. “He was an excellent teacher. He not only showed you how to do things, but he explained why, so that you understood the whole process.”
Ramona Ratliff, Circulations/Periodicals Librarian, also spoke highly of Baucom. “I worked for him in this library when I was 18. It was one of my first jobs,” said Ratliff. “He was really nice and non-scary as a boss…he was patient with me, giving me jobs that I could do and teaching me a lot.”
“I’m going to really miss him,” said Carlock, expressing the sentiments of so many at YC whose lives have been touched by Baucom and his gentle service.
“I am so fortunate that it has all worked out this way. The situation really seems ideal,” said Baucom, with a glisten of tears in his eyes. Baucom will reside in an assisted care facility, where he plans to continue in his favorite hobby, family genealogy research.
“The librarian at ACU is an old friend of mine, so I expect to do a lot of research there,” said Baucom. He also plans to spend time visiting with his relatives, many of whom live in the area.
The Rest of the Story
Danny Weddle, Class of 1967
Charles Van Baucom has been my friend since I entered York College in l965. My wife Blossom and I were saddened at news of his passing. I very much want to be a part of honoring his memory. He was not only my first college English professor, but, I worked for him as his secretary my freshman and sophomore years. Throughout the years we have stayed close friends, his visiting our homes and supporting us in the mission field many times. We named our adopted son after him...Charles Van Weddle.
He opened his apartment to me when I was unable to go home for Christmas my freshman year when he traveled to be with his grandmother in Texas. Charles, at that time, and before microwaves, cooked his food mostly in a little electric oven. It was in his never-used pan closet that I found the first Teflon skillet I had ever seen. I was amazed that Charles would put a pan back in the closet covered with such thick grease. I scrubbed, and scraped....with steel wool, even the edge of a knife to get off the grease. Finally I just gave up and put the skillet back into the never used pans. I never got around to telling Charles I was not able to wash the dirty skillet.......and, when I discovered Teflon...I never confessed. I can just imagine his wonderful laugh if I had been able in this life to confess what I had done.
Libraries are supposed to be quiet! He made York's old library (and the new) a joy.
A Kindred Spirit
Memory submitted by Chrystal Houston
Charles was the Director Emeritus of the Library when I came to York College as a freshman in 1999. He was my work-study boss for 2 ˝ years until he retired to Texas. Due to his illness, he could not leave his house often, so my work-study job was to visit his house, pick up assignments and go back to the library archives to work. Well, that’s what was supposed to happen, anyway. Usually what did happen was that I would go to his house, and we’d visit for an hour, and then I would get to work.
Charles didn’t have many visitors, and he and I found that we were kindred spirits, so we had plenty to talk about. We discussed books and family, mostly. Charles loved mapping his family genealogy. I always thought researching genealogy was just knowing who gave birth to whom and so on. To him, his family was an extension of his own identity, so tracing not only the relationships but also the personalities and histories of each of his relatives was very important to him.
He had binders full of stories he had collected about different members of his family, and he loved to share tales with me about great aunt so-and-so and the time she got into such trouble. Even after he moved away and we kept in touch through letters, his epistles were always less about what was going on in his life and more about the lives of his kinfolk.
As important as his family was to him, you would think he would have had a family of his own. I remember him telling me once that was one of his greatest regrets in life, that he had never married and had children. I always imagined that there was probably a great story of love lost in his past, an unrequited romance perhaps, but I never asked. I wish I had known him when he was younger and in good health. I bet he was a lot of fun in his younger days. I’ve seen pictures of him from years past, and I think he must have been a very studious and responsible type even then, but I also know he had a mischievous side. Knowing the importance of family to him, I always took it as a great compliment that he tried to set me up with one of his cousins. That told me he thought pretty highly of me, if I was good enough for his family.
I will really miss receiving his letters. They always brightened my day so. He was a cherished friend and I’m so glad that God put him in my life. I look forward to seeing him again one day in Heaven and having a nice long visit about all that his family and mine have been up to!
John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."