Behind the scene of the Alexandria Gazette story on Mr. Herbert Pike Tancil dated February 22, 2018.
About two years ago, I came across an old article in the Alexandria Gazette newspaper
dated 22 December 1908 about the death of Herbert Pike Tancil I. On this winter heavy snowy day, Herbert closed up his barber shop and walked home. Due to the overexertion from walking in the snow, Herbert suffered a heart attack in his home that night and died at the age of 54. After reading that story, I wanted to know more about Herbert and his family.
I was able to locate Herbert’s great-grandson Herbert (Herb) P. Tancil IV. In interviewing Herb, he was
able to tell me about his great-grandfather being the barber to a white clientele. Herb did not know that his great-grandfather’s clients were made up of wealthy businessmen and the City Mayor. In his great-grandfather’s life time, he was the barber to ten Mayors. Through Herbert’s barber shop business, he was able to purchase a home at 1012 Oronoco Street. He supported a wife and eight children and several of his children went to college. Two of Herbert’s children became medical doctors.
The barber business stayed in the family for two generations. Herbert P. Tancil and Herbert P. Tancil II were barbers in Alexandria. Herbert III broke away
from the family business and started working for the Federal government and the District of Columbia government. Also Herbert III like his father, Herbert II were devout Episcopalians. The first Herbert was a member of Alfred Street Baptist Church.
Herb fondly remembers his father’s strong devotion to his religion. Herbert III was called on to participate in the ceremonies of the Archbishop of Canterbury when the Archbishop visited the Washington, D.C. area. Herbert III also enjoyed his second career as a counselor for an orphanage in Washington, D.C. Herb IV said, “that if his father was walking down the street and saw five people, he would know three of the five people, and the other two would be his friends before they departed.” Herbert III was a people person. He loved to be around people and people loved to be around him.
His son, Herb IV has made his own mark on life by being the first Hartford Life Insurance Company’s African American Group Sales Manager in Detroit, Michigan. Herb was born in Alexandria, Virginia. While he was in high school, he excelled in track. He graduated from Groveton High School in 1966. Herb attended York Academy of Arts in York, Pennsylvania and National Academy of Arts in Washington, D.C. He earned a certificate as a commercial artist in 1968. He further his education at Howard University in Washington, D.C., graduating in 1972 with a degree in Fine Arts.
Today, Herb lives in Arizona with his wife, Marcia and his sons, Herbert P. Tancil V and Chad L. Tancil; and, their families including his grandson, Herbert P. Tancil VI.
The very first Herbert P. Tancil would have been very pleased that his name meant so much to his family, that his name has been carried down six-generations.
In ending, my elders used to say, you have nothing to stand on but your name. So do not disgrace yourself because you will be disgracing the family’s name. The Tancil family has a strong name to stand on.