A marker for alumnus James Tackitt Sr.


Chico State

Chico State College’s Circle K Club in 1956. Jim Tackitt pictured in the leftmost spot in row 1. Photo courtesy of Chico State’s Associated Students The Normal Record 1956, call number: LD726 C57.

James William Tackitt Sr., a longtime Chico resident who designed the marker surrounding the flagpole in front of Kendall Hall, passed peacefully on Feb. 6 in Rio Linda at 86 years old. 

Tackitt, along with fellow alumni Pat Long and Jacob Heijn, completed their design in 1955. 

Jim Tackitt’s yearbook photo in 1956. Photo courtesy of Chico State’s Associated Students The Normal Record 1956, call number: LD726 C57.

In 1953, Kiwanis International sponsored a service organization named Circle K that funded the design contest and construction because members felt the college needed some form of identification. The contest took components from the designs of three students to create the base we have today. The class of 1956 donated its class funds to aid in the marker’s construction.

At the time, the octagonal red brick surrounding the flagpole contained a sign for Chico State College. However, the university changed its name in 1972, and the nameplate was removed and replaced. 

The current plaques honor 44 faculty, students, staff and alumni who served the country during World War II. The structure also contains a recognition of John Bidwell’s land donation for the campus, an acknowledgment of the class of 1956 and the names of the three student designers.

Veteran's plaque on Chico State's flagpole
Veterans plaque on the flagpole at Chico State on Feb.14.

Tackitt established deep roots in the Chico area. He was born on Dec. 18, 1935, in Bell, California. His mother lived north of Mount Shasta in Grenada, and his bedroom was in the barn, where wildlife critters often visited him. He eventually moved to Chico and graduated from Chico High School in 1953. . 

Tackitt participated in the band during high school and college. He was a proud member of the fraternity Chi Tau and the vice president of Circle K. 

Jim Tackitt's 1955 sketch of Chico State's flagpole structure in "The Wildcat"
Jim Tackitt’s sketch of Chico State College’s flagpole. Photo courtesy of The Wildcat, April 22, 1955.

Chico State College’s newspaper at the time, The Wildcat, lists him as a student reporter and a volunteer for flood relief efforts after a levee burst in Hamilton City in 1958. He eventually graduated in 1963 while running a butcher shop in Chico called Meat Cutters Union with his father, Howard Tackitt, from 1957 to 1966. 

Tackitt’s passion was learning about his ancestral genealogy. He spent more than 60 years as a professional genealogist. His studies led him to publish 11 books on his ancestors. 

Tackitt also established The Tackett Family Association in 1963. It aims to teach people about Tackett family geneology and the history of their differentiating surnames.

He worked as an assistant professor of graphic design before while pursuing a teaching credential in industrial arts at Chico State in 1966. Tackitt taught for 30 years at Mount Diablo Middle School and Pleasant Hill High School, leading classes in photography and graphic art.

In 1965 and 1966, Tackitt served as a councilman and vice mayor of Live Oak. He also donated to engineering organizations.

His other hobbies included reading and taking pictures by the campus creek, a spot where his great-nephew Steel Bungato, who followed in Tackitt’s footsteps by attending Chico State, now frequently spends his time.

“He told me to hang around the creek because that’s where he liked to photograph and read,” Bungato said. “I often find myself hanging out around there.”

Tackitt was a proud Wildcat and frequently sported a Chico State Baseball cap. He had recently asked his nephew about the flagpole, and Bungato sent him pictures a week before his passing.

“I didn’t know how prevalent he was in the community,” Bungato said. “[But] it gives me a sense of ease that he’s left a lasting impact.”

The flagpole at Chico State in front of Kendall Hall
Long distance shot of Kendall Hall and flagpole at Chico State University on Feb.14.

Tackitt was preceded in death by his wife and grandson. He’s survived by his four siblings, partner, five children, nine grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and his legacy at Chico State. 

Carrington Power can be reached at [email protected].