Mike Tackney

On July 5, 1960 I boarded the 3F bus in downtown Falls Church and began the short journey to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. About all I can say about the ensuing four years were that they were action packed. I married our classmate, Betsy Caron, shortly after graduation from “Boat School”. We were off to Newport, Rhode Island for two years while I served on two different destroyers. In 1977 I found myself in Da Nang, RVNAi?? serving as “Skipper” of Swift Boat (PCF-56) for a year. Upon returning to the “world” in 1968 I was assigned to teach NROTC at Tulane University in New Orleans. It was an interesting time to wear a uniform on campus. I resigned from the Navy in 1970 to finish the second year of an MBA program, but promptly signed up again in 1970 to work for Adm. David Bagley who was the Chief of Naval Personnel. It was an interesting time to wear civilian clothes and work on Jr. Officer Retention in D.C. My Naval career finally came to an end when I resigned for good in 1972 and set out to find my way in the corporate world..

In spite of my less than stellar performance in chemistry at USNA , I took a job with BASF, a German chemical company, and ended up as Manager of a chemical plant outside Baton Rouge Louisiana – go figure. My marriage ended after several years in Baton Rouge. At that point I decided to leave the corporate world and try life as an entrepreneur.

With no sales or manufacturing experience (other than chemicals), I started up Air and Process Systems, Inc., an industrial sales and manufacturing company based in Baton Rouge which eventually provided ready to run compression systems to the chemical plants and offshore rigs in south Louisiana and Mississippi.. After several years, and some of the worst sales calls in the history of industrial selling I must have gotten the hang of it as the company grew from a one man operation to 36 employees. The company had good years and not so good years as we survived the ups and downs of the oil patch and chemical industry for the next 31 years. Fortunately I met and married Mary, the love of my life, during this time so life was good. I closed the business in 2007 and spun off two departments as a new company under the management of one of my long term employees. I sold all of the equipment and fixtures to the new company, and remain an inactive partner in that enterprise. We were able to capitalize on our reputation of 31 years and have retained all of our key suppliers and almost all of our old customers. So far so good.

With Mary retired after 37 years teaching kindergarten and first grade, and the business in good hands we were ready to try retirement. We considered several alternative locations, none of which were in the deep South or subject to hurricanes. We eventually chose Abingdon, Virginia, a wonderful old historical town located on Interstate 81 about 17 miles from the Tennessee border and 110 miles down the interstate from Virginia Tech. We were very fortunate to stumble upon a wonderful piece of property located within several hundred yards of the Virginia Creeper Trail, a beautiful biking and walking trail that allows us to walk to town in about 30 minutes, or to cycle (or take our bikes by van) to the top of Virginia’s second highest peak and ride downhill through the Mt. Rogers forest for almost 20 miles, a real “Ya Hoo” experience.

Since Mary had found and kept a floor plan for her “dream house” for years we had a great starting point for our new home. By the time we were ready to build we had “dreamed” up a home which has wonderful mountain views , plenty of room for family and friends, is highly energy efficient, and is based on “age in place” design standards (one floor, wide doors and halls, grab bars, etc.)

Mary and I have four children, one hers, Amanda, two mine, Karen and Stephen, and one ours, Erin. All successfully on their own. We are fortunate to have 4 wonderful grandchildren, all boys. We’re pretty active together – hiking, paddling, mountain biking, skiing, and exploring the wonderful area we are living in.

We are located less than a mile from Interstate 81 at exit 17 in Abingdon. We have plenty of room and invite any of our classmates who find themselves traveling through our area to visit with us. No Kidding! This is a real invitation. You can reach us at 276-206-8203. We hope you’ll be calling.

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