Tommy Charles

January 3, 1932July 30, 2021

Tommy Charles, age 89, of West Columbia, South Carolina passed away on Friday, July 30, 2021. Tommy was born January 3, 1932.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Charles family.


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Tommy Charles

have a memory or condolence to add?


August 8, 2021

In writing a recommendation for the Order of the Palmetto, too many of Tommy's achievements came to mind to put in a letter of acceptable length. I hope that letter, attached here, will help as a very abbreviated summary.


August 7, 2021

It was certainly fortunate Tommy received the recognition of the Awarding of the Order of the Palmetto - many thanks to those of you who made that happen. He was indeed a great friend, and he made the understanding of prehistoric history so much fun! His low - key charisma opened doors to sites perhaps never to be explored without his approach. He really enriched our lives, as others have said so well.

gene johnston

August 5, 2021

I can only add excerpts (and paraphrases) from my nomination of Tommy for the Order of the Palmetto.

...As a non degreed archaeologist, he devoted himself to learning his craft with unbridled enthusiasm and thorough, with a smile and patience for everyone he encountered. He always had time for everyone and their questions; no question was "insignificant"; he stoked everyone's interest in the study of archaeology, particularly in Rock Art (carvings and painting on rock) in South Carolina. He is without equal in his knowledge of SC Rock Art...

His most significant projects were the pre historic Native American site at Roberson Farm, aged app. 10,000 years old, and the discovery of circular rock carvings in the mountains of Pickens and Greenville counties.

Tommy's influence on archaeology projects across the state are well known, but in truth, we sill remember him as "The Father of Rock Art Research in SC.

When Dennis Chastain and I set out to nominate Tommy for the Order of the Palmetto, we had no idea of the response we would receive from people of all walks of life! We just felt that, if anyone deserved this honor, it was Tommy.

Little did we know that Tommy would soon leave us, with broken hearts, but also with heartfelt memories!


Christopher Judge

August 4, 2021

Bob Costello

August 4, 2021

Tommy Charles was a wonderful human being who enriched the lives of all who knew him. His patience, support, and respect for avocational archaeologists and collectors such as myself will never be forgotten. It is an honor to ever have had the privilege of knowing Tom. His spirit will live on in those who knew and loved him.

Michael Bramlett

August 3, 2021

First and foremost, Tom was my friend. His impact on my life and the lives of my family members literally changed our trajectories. Our lives were never the same after that fateful meeting in July 1996. I looked forward to our quick phone calls which ended up lasting an hour or more. He was a born communicator; unrivaled by anyone I've ever met. He was a teacher, an ambassador, and a mentor. But mostly he was a friend, one that I will miss greatly. Whether or not I am truly capable of carrying the portion of his life's work he trusted to me is debatable; he thought I could, therefore I will. Thanks Tom you will be missed.

Christopher Judge

August 3, 2021

Tommy Charles was a mentor in archaeology to me from the first time I met him in the early 1980s until his passing. He was a gentle, friendly, and giving person. Tommy was the liaison between the professional archaeology community and those in the public interested in archaeology. As such, he was a tremendous statewide ambassador, who will never be replaced. Tommy could always be relied upon to share is vast knowledge of SC archaeology, and I often benefitted from his sharing. He will be sorely missed.
Chris Judge