Civitan Club of Salisbury presents annual Hero Award

  • Posted: Sunday, September 22, 2013 12:01 a.m.
Submitted photo 
Kaden Tanksley holds the Hero Award given to his late father, Steven.  Zaleb Tanksley, Melanie Tanksley, Elijah Tanksley and the Rev. James Tate, youth minister at Tabernacle Baptist Church stand behind him.
Submitted photo Kaden Tanksley holds the Hero Award given to his late father, Steven. Zaleb Tanksley, Melanie Tanksley, Elijah Tanksley and the Rev. James Tate, youth minister at Tabernacle Baptist Church stand behind him.

The Civitan Club of Salisbury recently gave its annual Hero Award to the late Steven Tanksley. It was accepted by his widow, Melanie Tanksley.

Steven, 45, was fishing with his three sons at the “Bullhole,” now known as RiverPark at Cooleemee Falls, on July 6 when a man and his dog fell into the water.


Without hesitation, Steven jumped into the water to rescue the man and dog, but the swirling water pulled him down.

One of his sons swam out to help and Steven told him to get back to shore. Although the man with his dog was rescued, Steven perished trying to save them, leaving his wife and five children behind.

Steven was born in West Haven, Conn., and lived in Florida for a brief time before he met Melanie and the two moved to Salisbury. The couple had been married 13 years.

He was active in the school system, helping with fundraisers and volunteered at Knox Middle School.

Steven organized soccer, football and basketball games for community children. In addition, he dreamed of opening a boys’ and girls’ club.

Zaleb Tanksley, the oldest son, attends Salisbury High School, where he is a member of ROTC and the football team.

The club also presented the family gifts from DJ’s Restaurant, Kimono, Marlow’s Bar-B-Q & Seafood and Harris Teeter.

David Setzer, executive director for the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation, spoke about heroes during the ceremony.

“Our imagination is captivated by those whose deeds and acts of bravery take them to the elevated heights where they impact the lives of others in profoundly significant ways,” he said.

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