Atwater set to honor leader of city, VFW

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comJuly 2, 2013 

— Those who knew Jack Tucker say he loved this city and did all he could to make it a better place to live.

Atwater residents will remember the longtime veterans organization official, city councilman and community activist with an eight-foot concrete bench to be installed today in Ralston Park in his honor.

Jeannette Tucker, his widow, said her husband came to Atwater when his military service brought him to Castle Air Force Base in the late 1960s, and he quickly made it his permanent home.

Tucker is considered to be the father of Atwater's Fourth of July Parade, a holiday tradition that continues to this day.

"He loved Atwater; he really did," Jeannette Tucker said. "He wanted what was best for the city. He participated in just about anything that benefited Atwater."

The bench, to be installed about 2 p.m. today at Third Street and Fir Avenue in the park, has a likeness of an Atwater Police Department volunteer badge as well as an inscription listing the names of his wife and five children.

Like the parade, Tucker was instrumental in founding the volunteer group that assists police officers in their work.

Atwater Police Chief Frank Pietro, who also serves as interim city manager, said Tucker was a good personal friend, someone he described as well-respected and community-oriented.

"He would walk all over town," Pietro said. "He loved talking with people."

Tucker died April 28, 2012. He was 92.

He retired from the Air Force about 40 years ago as a master sergeant and was the commander of Atwater's Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

Jeannette Tucker said her husband of nearly 30 years had been stationed in Greece, Germany, France and Spain during his career as an Air Force courier.

Former Atwater Mayor Rudy Trevino said Tucker doggedly pursued what he thought was best for Atwater. Before his council service, he was a member of the Atwater Recreation Commission.

"Jack Tucker was very much involved in what was right for the city," Trevino said. "If he heard a rumor, he would check it out. No matter who it was, he would go after you. He was a good councilman and the city was very fortunate to have him."

A congenial pipe smoker, Tucker served on the City Council from 1972-80. Jeannette Tucker said she and her husband were involved in many dances and fund-raising events for veterans, which were always successful.

"If anything were wrong, he jumped in and tried to get it taken care of," she said.

Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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