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In loving memory of
Christopher A Tidwell
  • July 03, 1965
  • -
  • November 18, 2015

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Dr. Christopher Alden Tidwell passed away in his apartment after numerous health issues and was found on Wednesday, November 18, 2015.  He was born July 3, 1965 in Clarksville, Tennessee of Douglas and Anita Tidwell.  Chris had a life-long love of literature and determined early to follow his parents’ footsteps in collegiate education.  Chris was a tenured professor at Hillsborough Community College where he taught English Literature and Poetry, and was an Honors Instructor for the last 4 years.  He received his Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of the South at Sewanee in Sewanee, Tennessee.  His Master of Arts in English was from the University of  Florida in Gainesville, Florida, and his Ph.D. in English was awarded in 2006 from the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida.


Chris was an avid grower of succulents (cacti) and has served as President of the Central Florida Cactus and Succulent Society.  He was also very involved in the ministry of St. Catherine of Alexandria Episcopal Church in Temple Terrace, Florida, where he was a Lay Eucharistic Minister responsible for reading scripture and helping administer Communion during services.  He worked with many other ministries of the church, and was always willing to step in where needed.


Chris loved strategy games  and built many lifelong friendships over various gameboards.  Some of his favorite memories were of all night gaming sessions with good friends.  He also loved writing poetry, often giving original works to friends and family.


Chris is preceded in death by his father, Douglas Tidwell. Chris is survived by his mother,  Anita Ryall, stepfather Anthony, sister Alycia McKinney, and nieces and nephew. In addition,  his Aunt Jeannine Oakes and cousins Ken and David Oakes reside in Tennessee.  Memorial services will be held at First Baptist Church of Pine Castle in Orlando, Florida at 2:00 PM on Thursday, December 10th.  In lieu of flowers, contributions should be made to St. Catherine of Alexandria Episcopal Church at 502 Druid Hills Rd., Temple Terrace, Fl  33617 (www.stcathtt.org).

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  1. Cac Nguyen says:
    28 Sep 2016
    I was reading some poetry today and though about my college English teacher and decided to look him up. I found out he passed away November of last year. It is hard to describe what a great teacher he was. This will be a sad attempt.

    Dr. Christopher Tidwell was the type of college professor that could read Old English loudly and beautifully. He taught 3-4 classes a day, 5 days a week with an auditorium full of students, learned ALL of their names and asked you questions during lecture. He used the Socratic method, encouraged self analyzation of the work and guided you to the probable meaning of the work. So even if you were way off the mark, you never felt stupid in a class full of your peers. He empowered your learning. You could feel how much passion he had for teaching and language because every lecture felt like it was the first time he was telling you about these great writers. He didn't believe in the easy way to test your knowledge in literature. No multiple choice tests for his class. You had to identify the work by name, author, and interpret the piece to get an A on the final exam.

    I took two semesters with him during my prerequisite race for nursing school and I wish I could be in his class again.

  2. Richard Walters says:
    17 Aug 2016
    It is raining outside and my eyes are blind with tears as I write this. Chris' lived life with the passion and intensity of a poem. He knew and deeply felt all of the pain and longing of Cyrano, his hero. He could fence with words like no other man I have yet encountered on this dull earth. He possessed near eidetic memory and could return an act from Shakespeare as if he wrote it himself, or lived the part in another century. His enthusiasm was like a fire that ignited passions in everyone who listened to him weave his stories. The stories themselves, a magic all their own.

    Chris was a champion to anyone seeking light. Identifying with the underdog, he took great pleasure in sharing insights that could change a person's life. It seemed to me that he invited others to join him at the reigns as he piloted the Sun through it's pathway in the sky.

    I only heard of his passing today, nearly 10 months too late to come see my friend one last time. I am devastated. Good-bye Chris. You were my friend, my brother and my mentor. I promise you that the light of your words and deeds will live on in my stories. You will not be forgotten as long as I yet draw breath on this silly planet!

  3. Greg Merkle lit a candle:
    05 Jan 2016
    Lit since January 5, 2016 at 1:20:44 PM

  4. Richie Rogers lit a candle:
    01 Jan 2016
    Lit since January 1, 2016 at 1:58:25 AM

  5. Richie Rogers says:
    01 Jan 2016
    I met Chris Tidwell in August of 1978. He is my memory of my first day in junior high school. He is the best example of an academic student that ever comes to mind. Just last week I was telling my son about the first day that I had met Chris. He was the first person that I ever got to "spend the night with" and I think Anita for allowing me to spend so much time over at the house and get away from mine. He is my experience with the first "Real" college. (And yes Alycia , I'm just him greatly then as well) I went to go and visit him in Tennessee in 1984 when I had my first over the road bus trip. I played my first game of Dungeons & Dragons with him in his house next Walker junior high school in December of 1978 I think, as well as Strat-a-matic football. He was smarter than I am and more athletic and I remember being very pleased to find out that he had made it to achieving his PhD. He introduced me to Hugh Prather and I will always remember Chris when I recite the quote, "when I was 16 I knew everything; now that I'm 60 I know nothing; life is a journey into our own ignorance." Thank you Chris for being a teacher (long before he received a piece of paper that said you were), I will do my best to pass your teachings on. And when my time comes, I look forward to joining you at a big table with lots of dice, pizza, potato chips and of course Mountain Dew.
    Good Journey My Friend

  6. PAUL D MORSE says:
    31 Dec 2015
    Alycia, and Mrs. "T", now R. I am just finding out as are Richie, Hum, Tim, Warren and Herb. We are so very sorry to hear this news. While we may have lost contact with Chris over the years, the memories of times spent with him have stayed with us. Our lives back then in Orlando, our friends have shaped who and what we are, to this day. Please let us know if there is anything that we can do.

  7. Humbert Serrano lit a candle:
    31 Dec 2015
    Lit since December 31, 2015 at 12:22:01 PM

  8. Brendan Boyle says:
    26 Dec 2015
    Chris, you were an old and dear friend. There are times and people in your life that leave great and lasting impressions and I don't think I've ever felt such an impact or laughed as much as we all did during the summer of '87. You were a writer, teacher and philosopher with a great passion and energy that was all your own.
    We only talked every 2 or 3 months, but it was always a great talk that brought us back to yesterday and then back around to everything today. It wasn't an easy thing to hear of your passing and my best thoughts are with your family and those that were part of your everyday that are missing you now.
    You'll always be remembered, from the way you saw things to the way you laughed. You were the literary warrior of our time and a friend that will be greatly missed.

  9. Kathy Echevarria says:
    11 Dec 2015
    I admired Chris. He was an appreciated member of the Tampa Federation of Garden Club Circles, Inc.

  10. Valerie Lake says:
    06 Dec 2015
    Aunt Anita and Uncle Tony, Alycia and your family, so sorry to hear of your unfortunate news. I met Chis when I visited you in Florida, I'm sure you will miss him terribly...Keep all your happy memories close to your heart. RIP Chris
    Valerie, Annie and Sophia

  11. Joan Kaywell says:
    06 Dec 2015
    Chris was a good guy and I will miss him at church. I substituted for him the last Sunday I served when he called to say he wasn't feeling well. I had no idea he was so sick or I would have dropped everything to assist. His call is a testimony of his responsibility and dedication to his church family. I am sure he is in heaven.

  12. Candy Brandt says:
    05 Dec 2015
    I loved doing the readings with Chris, he taught me so much and I will truly miss him.

  13. Cathy Guerard says:
    03 Dec 2015
    I met Chris at St Catherine's many years ago as the Lay Eucharistic Minister coordinator. Chris was a dedicated and reliable reader and chalice bearer. He was always polite and willing to step in to help out when needed. I will miss his bright smile and cheerful greeting when I would see him at church each Sunday morning. Rest in peace Chris.

  14. Laura Fellows says:
    01 Dec 2015
    I've known Chris for several years through the Cactus and Succulent society. He was truly the glue that held our small group together. He served as president and put out the newsletter each month. He coordinated our speakers and our plant sales. It is going to take a number of people to fill his shoes.

    For those in our society that didn't get to work with Chris at our sales you missed getting to know a wonderful soul. He kept us entertained with jokes, of course, but also with verses of poetry and literature...and song. Recently on a slow afternoon he started singing "If I only had a Brain". A very fine rendition which garnered an applause from me...his audience of one.

    My prayer go out to his family and all who cared about him.

  15. Jesse Barbon says:
    26 Nov 2015
    I was a student of Chris Tidwell's this past semester, and he was one of the best professor's I've had since attending HCC, if not the best. He was very lively when he read to the class, almost theatrical in his performance. Even when he showed signs of not feeling well, he tried his hardest to be the best teacher for all of his students. We all will miss him dearly, he was an inspiring man.

  16. Mitch kessler says:
    24 Nov 2015
    Chris graciously served as the president of the central FL cactus and succulent society for many years. I had the privilege of Getting to know him durning his years of leadership.He was one heck of a unique,caring and dedicated guy. He loved the plants and gave many hours to the club,the public and USF gardens. Chris always had one more joke to share.He will be greatly missed by all of us ! RIp Chris

  17. Abby McKinney posted an image:
    24 Nov 2015
    When I First Met My Uncle
    When I First Met My Uncle

  18. Alycia McKinney posted an image:
    24 Nov 2015
    Photo of my Big Brother
    Photo of my Big Brother

  19. Charles Jimenez says:
    24 Nov 2015
    Several years ago, Chris and I attended a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game. We had much great conversation throughout the game. In spring of 2014 when HCC hosted TYCA-SE, I worked with Chris and many other colleagues on the planning committee. He did a superb job in garnering door prizes and donations from merchants. Also, during meetings and whenever we crossed paths, I found Chris to be a gentleman and a scholar. May he rest in peace.

    Charlie Jimenez
    English Instructor
    HCC Brandon

  20. Suzy DeVore says:
    24 Nov 2015
    I only knew Chris briefly, and any time we did meet at HCC functions, we were immediately engaged in great conversation. He had a true love for literature and teaching. He will be missed.

  21. Bryan Shuler lit a candle:
    24 Nov 2015
    Lit since November 24, 2015 at 11:57:27 AM

  22. Janice Germann says:
    23 Nov 2015
    Dearest Anita and Tony, my heart hurts for your sorrow. I remember Anita's arrival at Evans High in the 70's and listened to the "mom" stories about Chris and Alycia, and we other young (English teacher) mothers shared ours. It's hard to believe all the years that have past and harder to believe that your beloved son has passed on to Heaven. Reading his obituary, I realized how accomplished, intelligent, spiritual, joyful, and kind he was to all those with whom he had contact. I hope your wonderful memories of him will soon outweigh the extreme grief you must be feeling. If there's anything I can do, don't hesitate to let me know.
    Your friend forever, Jan

  23. Leslie Eckstein says:
    23 Nov 2015
    Chris was a sweet, gentle soul, a keen observer, and a quick wit. Beyond all that, he was a dedicated instructor. His passing is a great loss to the college (HCC), and he will be dearly missed.

  24. Stephen Lambert says:
    23 Nov 2015
    More than twenty years ago, Chris and I were graduate students at USF. He was quite possibly the most enthusiastic student in the English Department. Years later, when he joined our faculty at HCC, I was surprised to find his passion for literature and teaching undiminished--if anything, Chris seemed more ardent than before. We are always amazed by the rare example of one so persistently dedicated and dynamic. Chris discovered something special in himself and spent his life nurturing it. In this sense, he presented an exquisite example for students (and the rest of us). I am grateful to have known Chris and want his family to know that he made a significant impact on the lives of many here at HCC.

  25. Abigail McKinney says:
    22 Nov 2015
    On Wednesday night at church it came,
    The call from Mother dear.
    The one that said, “He won't answer the phone,
    “Uncle Chris may not still be here.”

    “Please pray for Uncle Chris,” I said
    To my sister sitting there,
    Her furrowed brow confirmed to me
    Her effort not to despair.

    We both knew he'd been sickly,
    And he'd been worse just of late.
    But he's s'posed to come on Thursday, I thought,
    Thanksgiving will be great.

    I went through all the motions
    Of a typical Wednesday night,
    Unable to deny my heart,
    Which was pattering with fright.

    God, keep him safe, I pleaded,
    A heavy feeling in my chest,
    Of all the uncles that I have,
    He's the one I know the best.

    I sat down at the computer,
    And my phone began to ring,
    Oh, no, I thought, it's Mom again,
    We don't need another thing.

    “Uncle Chris is dead.” My brother's voice
    Was as thick as my head seemed.
    It can't be, I thought. I told myself,
    This must all be a dream.

    Today we looked at urns again.
    I found the perfect one.
    Shaped like a book; I thought of him,
    And all that he had done.

    He always asked about school on holidays,
    The last thing we thought about.
    “How're your grades?” He'd always say,
    Which made us want to shout.

    But he took us to the arcade,
    To the zoo, and to the park.
    He never asked what it would cost,
    Or made a cruel remark.

    He played all kinds of games with us,
    Even when we'd rather not.
    His laugh was quite infectious,
    And we'd hear the same old stories – a lot.

    He got a blanket every Christmas,
    'Cause somehow he was always cold,
    And to me he never appeared to age,
    It seemed he would never grow old.

    I'll miss him every time I think,
    We don't need an extra chair,
    Don't get another napkin or plate,
    And no more silverware.

    There'll be no Mountain Dew for him,
    Special for this night,
    No more same old stories again and again,
    No more poems for him to write.

    So I say goodbye to my Uncle Chris,
    Or rather, goodbye for now.
    For I know I'll see you again someday,
    And at Jesus' feet we'll bow.

    ~ A tribute to my uncle, from his niece Abby

  26. Mark and Kathy Ligon says:
    22 Nov 2015
    Dearest Anita, Alycia and Tony,
    Are hearts are heavy with sorrow for you. There are so many memories we have of when Chris and Alycia were growing up and we parked ourselves at your house. We babysat for them, played with them at rehearsals, and generally, loved them. Christopher was always SO smart and loved to read. To become an English professor was truly his destination. He was curious, inquisitive and determined. I remember how he always loved Dungeons and Dragons. He tried to teach me once but it was way over my head, I'm thankful to have watched him grow up. His students are thankful for the role he played in their lives. We are praying for your peace and comfort. We love you very much.

  27. Mark and Kathy Ligon says:
    22 Nov 2015
    Dearest Anita, Alycia and Tony,
    Our hearts are full of sorrow for you. We were so blessed to have you as our teacher and, in turn, you shared your children with us. I remember all the times we came to your house and played with Chris and Alycia and just hung out. We visited even after you moved to Florida and they continued to thrive. Christopher was SO smart. He was curious, inquisitive, and creative. I know he was an awesome teacher because he had awesome teachers. We are lifting you up in love and sorrow and praying for comfort for all of you.

  28. Mark and Kathy Ligon lit a candle:
    22 Nov 2015
    Lit since November 22, 2015 at 11:15:44 PM

  29. Terry Ligon lit a candle:
    22 Nov 2015
    Lit since November 22, 2015 at 11:08:54 PM

  30. Terry Ligon says:
    22 Nov 2015
    Natures first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold,Her early leaf's a flower, But only for an hour,Then leaf subsides to leaf, So Eden sank to grief,So dawn goes down to day,Nothing Gold can stay. Robert Frost. I also knew Christopher as a very young man.He was always full of laughter and kindness. Anita so sorry for your loss.I can only imagine your heart break. May God's grace and love carry you and your family through I love you,Terry

  31. Alycia McKinney says:
    22 Nov 2015
    I had the distinct privilege of knowing Chris my entire life. He was my big brother. As a child he was my confidant, my teacher, my partner in crime, my shield and protector, my constant companion. We had many adventures together because he made everything fun, exciting and yet I always felt safe with him.

    Before I was born he “knew” I was his little sister. He asked God for me and had total faith that I was a girl. My parents said, “But what if it's a boy? Wouldn't you like to have a little brother?” With conviction Chris said, “No, I'm getting a sister.” and that was that. My parents were concerned that if I came out a boy that he would reject me, but Chris never wavered in his belief that I would be the sister he'd asked for. I'm told (and there are photos) of when I was a baby, that Chris would bring me toys when I was in my playpen and I would toss them out one by one just so that Chris would gather them up and return them to the playpen. Then we'd start all over again and again and again. He was always patient...with me. He would read to me and read to me and read to me whether I wanted him to or not. He patiently taught me about words and music, how to play games, build forts and do multiplication. He also taught me about loyalty, creativity and unconditional love.

    Even though four years separated us, he never treated me like a “pesky tag-along.” Instead, he made me a part of his gang of friends. I was always made to feel like a valued member of his posse. He was the only person on the planet who fully understood how I felt when our parents divorced, when they each remarried, when we moved and moved and moved again. Or when we went from the college-run private school for professors' kids where we were dropped off and picked up every day by a parent to the urban, inner-city school having to ride the scary yellow bus where girls had to sit on one side of the aisle and boys on the other. And then later when he would walk me to elementary school and then go next door to the junior high. There were times when I would have an asthma attack on the walk home from school. He would run to my rescue and carry me home, then he would tend to me til mom got there. I remember Halloweens where I was sick and he went “trick or treating,” gathering candy just for me. I would always cringe in school when I would meet a new teacher and they would say “Oh, your Chris' little sister!” because I rarely met those teachers' expectations. You see, he was really, really smart. He loved learning and school (as evidenced by his almost 50 years spent attending one or teaching at one.) I, on the other hand, didn't love learning anything that didn't serve a purpose in my everyday life and I had to work really, really hard to do well in school.

    I was devastated when he left for college, where he met new people and had grand adventures without me! It wasn't til I was married and starting a family that I truly forgave him for that. He was one of the first people to the hospital to “meet” his nieces and nephew. He'd hold them and introduce himself and speak to them about the fun they would have together when they were older... And they did! Uncle Chris always meant fun because he would read to them, play games with them and tell them stories about their mom that only he could tell. He treated us all to the Lowry Park Zoo, the MOSI and the amazing 3 story Arcade. He took them on adventures just like he'd always done for me. To say I'll miss him is a gross understatement! My only comfort at this time is that we both know Jesus as our Savior and I know that Chris went to his eternal home where some day we'll be reunited.

    “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus... Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
    1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, 18

  32. Ms. Armel says:
    21 Nov 2015
    I have never encountered anyone who had as much passion for his craft as Dr. Tidwell did. He was a patient, lively, and engaging instructor. He was everything one could want in a teacher, and kept up his bright spirit even in his last class. I will be forever grateful to Dr. Tidwell not only for what he taught me about literature, but for the way in which he inspired me to live.

  33. Tim McDonald says:
    21 Nov 2015
    Dear Anita,
    You and your family are in my prayers tonight. May God bless and keep you and your family in his sheltering arms during your time of grief.

  34. Cindy Whittaker Putman says:
    21 Nov 2015
    My prayers are with Anita, Tony, and Alycia. Chris was a wonderful little boy. He was so smart and full of questions. His sweet mother loved all of us and shared Alycia and Chris with her students. We made happy memories, in Cookeville TN. I was so sad when I heard the news of his passing. May the love of family and friends give his family strength during these days. I pray God's peace and mercy over everyone who knew Chris. Anita, I love you!

  35. Debbie Miller says:
    21 Nov 2015
    I have been sitting here reading all of the kind remarks from Chris's friends, students and colleagues. Visualizing his accomplishments, and achievements. You all knew him as a man, a scholar, and a friend. I knew him before that, as a young boy. Inquisitive, extremely intelligent, and highly creative, funny and witty. It is so clear that the young boy that I knew, with all of these attributes followed his passion of learning and creativity. I too, remember his creativity of board games, and sharing many hours of playing and teaching his young friends how to play. While Chris may no longer be with us, it is forever a great fortune for all that did cross his path, know that he left some fantastic footprints along our way. Anita, Tony, and Alycia, you are in my thoughts and prayers and may you feel the embrace of Love to help you through this difficult time.

  36. Steve Johns says:
    21 Nov 2015
    Chris was a dear friend, and always brought a smile. He'll be greatly missed by his colleagues and students.

    Steve Johns

  37. Randy Dalton says:
    21 Nov 2015
    Anita, so sorry for your loss. I remember Christopher being a great kid when he was young and have enjoyed reading the tributes to him. Praying peace strength and comfort for you.

  38. Debbie Miller lit a candle:
    21 Nov 2015
    Lit since November 21, 2015 at 11:48:57 AM

  39. Jim Perry says:
    20 Nov 2015
    When I retired after a 36-year teaching career at HCC, Chris (whose office was next door to mine) was one of the young faculty I was proud to see taking on the responsibility I was laying down. His intelligence, enthusiasm, and knowledge were a great gift to HCC's students and to his colleagues. Losing him is sad, and losing him so young is heartbreaking. I offer his family and his friends, and his students, my sympathy for their loss.

  40. Alycia McKinney posted an image:
    20 Nov 2015
    HCC ID Photo
    HCC ID Photo

  41. Hugh Honts says:
    20 Nov 2015
    Tid, you will be missed. Say Hi to Jim Morrison for me! I'll see you guys some day!

    Always Your Friend,


  42. Hugh Honts posted an image:
    20 Nov 2015
    This is my tribute to my friend.
    This is my tribute to my friend.

  43. Hugh Honts lit a candle:
    20 Nov 2015
    Lit since November 20, 2015 at 11:35:52 PM

  44. Rick Gaspar lit a candle:
    20 Nov 2015
    Lit since November 20, 2015 at 11:40:51 PM

  45. Rick Gaspar says:
    20 Nov 2015
    God Bless you Chris,

    May you enjoy your "Mingling Incantations" with Hart Crane.
    I hope you have "found Heaven with the tortoise and the hare" (Crane).
    I enjoyed being your peer, and I will miss your wit, humor and good spirit.


  46. Morgan Combs says:
    20 Nov 2015
    Dr. Tidwell was a very inspiring man that I admired very much since taking his class. I'm very sad to hear this news. My condolences to his loved ones.

  47. Debi Thorson lit a candle:
    20 Nov 2015
    Lit since November 20, 2015 at 11:47:52 PM

  48. Elle Siegmund says:
    20 Nov 2015
    Dr. Tidwell inspired a thirst for theater in me. I am grateful to have had the pleasure of being a part of his short story. He will forever be inscribed in mine.

  49. Ellen Siegmund says:
    20 Nov 2015
    Dr. Tidwell inspired a thirst for theater in me. I am glad I had the pleasure of taking part in his short story. He will forever be enscribed in mine.

  50. Shelly Stein says:
    20 Nov 2015
    An honest man here lies at rest,
    As e'er God with his Image blest:
    A friend of man, the friend of truth,
    The friend of age and guide of youth;
    Few hearts like his-with virtue warm'd,
    Few heads with knowledge so informed:
    If there's another world, he lives in bliss;
    If there is none, he made the best of this.
    Robert Burns

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