Tuck Tucker passes

This lovely remembrance of Tuck Tucker from northern Alabama, who passed away on June 9, is a contribution from his brother, Skip. It appeared in the Daily Mountain Eagle in Jasper, AL on June 16. Bluegrass lovers in the deep south will recall Tuck from his time with the Brushy Creek Boys in and around Birmingham.

Our Tuck

Tuck isn’t with us anymore. He will always be with us.

James Ashmore Tucker of the Tuckers of Eldridge. Tuck. He was a known commodity, hither and yon. Musician, equestrian, woodsman, sportsman. Athlete. Environmentalist, traditionalist. Farmer in the dell.

He hugged folks, especially his wife and children and grandkids, and he smiled a mandolin smile. He must have known the words to at least a million tunes.

He laughed as much as anyone, ever.

He headed for the skies, so to speak, a week ago to the day. Cancer got him, finally. A rare kind of course. Rare as himself, with searching fingers virulent as hell. He fought it like hell for more than a year. He never winced nor cried aloud. He didn’t bitch about it.

His exact words to the MD Anderson doc: “I’ve got to dance with this thing, so put the record on and drop the needle.”

But finally he tired of it, tired of the chemo and radiation, and said, “If I get a miracle, fine. If I don’t, fine. I’m not going to string it out until I’m bones. Comes down to it, I’m ready to walk the walk.” So he went gently into that good night.

Last Thursday, at his pastoral dream home in Eldridge, he breathed slower. And slower. And slower. And then he didn’t.

Tuck loved to give presents. His last best one was to wait, stubbornly (he could be stubborn), until his grown and lovely daughters (one pregnant again) joined his Bride at his hospice bedside. Semi-conscious, he sort of smiled once in there somewhere and then kicked out of the traces, so to speak.

His life was full of fun, fortitude and service. Full. He protected the environment for the Southern Company for 25 years, a lot of them spent in Pensacola, and came back home to Eldridge. On the last 67 ancestral acres of prime pastureland, he built the stately place he dreamed of.

On a knoll overlooking myriad trees and brush and a creek, he built a ranch and a farmhouse, an expanded copy of the hand hewn cedar log waaayy old settler family cabin.

He planted amber waves of grain that attracted enough deer and wild turkey and such to call the place a park. He and Patti planted flowering shrubs and set out bird feeders and they re-settled the old Tucker homestead.

It was lively place. Picking and grinning galore.

Because not least in Tuck’s inclusive skill set lay a musician’s core. Some around here (older than forty-something) might remember the semi-famous semi-annual Brushy Creek Bluegrass Festival on the Smith Lake shore near Arley’s part of the Bankhead National Forest. He was lead singer and mandolin player for the house band, the Brushy Creek Boys. The band had a Birmingham following, as well.

Tuck was a crack shot, expert turkey hunter and he never lost a horse race, except that one time the saddle cinch slipped and got him a cracked scapula. Yelled like hell for the Crimson Tide. He could play golf a little.

Tuck Tucker, dead at 69. He was one of that rare breed who showed us how to live and, when the time came, showed us how to die.