Im sure the person pictured above is familiar to all of you. Tom Tucker has been an icon in Fennville for more years than many of you will be able to remember. More importantly, hes been a friend to many and a solid contributor to the entire Fennville community. His support and leadership in the Chamber of Commerce, Fennville Lions Club, and the Goose Festival are among the many contributions that earned him the Citizen of the Year award in 2004.       
   The Fennville Chamber recently awarded Tom the plaque show above in further recognition of his contributions to the community.        

  

 

   Many of you may also know that Tom has been diagnosed with liver cancer and is currently at Holland Hospice.  
   What many of you may not know about Tom is what a diverse and interesting life hes led. Among other things, hes been a race car driver, an accomplished musician an appliance store manager and owned a new car dealership selling Sunbeam, Lotus, Ferrari and Lotus automobiles.          Several years ago I wrote the article about Tom shown below.  I thought you might be interested in reading the article and learning a little more about Tom and the extraordinary life hes led.
     Tom enjoys visitors, as long as they dont stay too long. Drop in and say hello and let him tell you first hand some of stores about his life.

Jim Lytle
Editor in Chief
Fennville News



Tom Tucker
Citizen of the Year in Fennville for 2004.
 
A man of great diversity in all the years before.

They say that just about everyone's life contains the makings of a best-selling novel. That's certainly true when you've lived as long and had as many careers as Tom Tucker. I won't attempt to write that best-selling novel in this article, but only to highlight the life of one the most interesting and versatile members of our community. 

Thomas Keith Tucker was born in Chicago on April 24th, 1926. He and his family moved to Fennville in 1932. Tom's father operated Tucker Orchards which was in the family for more than 80 years. This farm eventually became what we now know as Fenn Valley Winery owned by the Welsch family.

Through three of his high school years, Tom worked part time at the Fennville Herald under the supervision of  Ted Van Dussen. He was involved in all phases of printing our now defunct weekly paper. After graduating from Fennville high school in 1944 he moved to Chicago where he pursued his interest in studying music After a short year there, he moved back to Michigan where he continued his study of music at Western Michigan College of Education. There he played 1st Chair Cornet in Western's Marching Band.

When I asked Tom what was the fastest he'd ever driven a car, he replied, "Oh, about 150 miles per hour."

In the mid forties Tom formed a small combo band. They played at the Vets Club in Paw Paw on weekends. Later on he played the trumpet at the Tara in Saugatuck and in a concert directed by Morton Gould at Western. He also played with the Jack Jerome band at the Club Seville in Grand Rapids. During those years he worked part time as a disc jockey at radio station WHBY in Appleton WI..

Music was Tom's love, but like many aspiring musicians, he wasn't quite able to make a living at it. He had to keep a "real" job while taking advantage of opportunities to play music as they arose. His primary career during the 50's was in the appliance business in Illinois.

In the late 50's Tom became interested in racing sports cars. Again though, while this new love was interesting and exciting, it didn't pay well. Tom's day job then was the owner of Elite Motors in Highland Park Illinois. He sold Sunbeam, Ferrari, MGA, and Lotus automobiles.

When I asked Tom what was the fastest he'd ever driven a car he replied, "Oh, about 150 miles an hour. It was my best friends Corvette. After about 15 laps at this speed, I decided I'd stay with my Austin Healey Sprite and MG, both of whose top speed was a mere 120 miles per hour." 

Automobiles, whether in racing or driving were one of the major factors in Tom's working career. Throughout the 70's Tom branched out into sales of VW, Porsche and Audi cars.

As owner of a car dealership, Tom drove a top of the line company car much of the time. He's "owned" literally hundreds of cars. Despite all the high-status and high-priced vehicles in his immediate world, Tom's personal choice for transportation was often modest. He owned three VW beetles. Interestingly, his soon-to-be-wife Joanne owned a VW beetle herself when they met.

The 80's found Tom back in the Appliance business.  Starting out as a part-time employee at Ferguson's Appliance & TV in Libertyville, IL,, he eventually worked into a full time position as assistant store manager.

After Tom retired in 1990 he came back to his roots to live permanently in Fennville.  With time on his hands, he devoted much of his energy to enriching our community. From 1991 til 1999 he ran the Goose Festival. He's been a past president and member of the Fennville Lions Club for the past 15 years, past president and current board member of the Chamber of Commerce, president of the Fennville High School Alumni Association and a board member of the Hutchins Lake Improvement Association.

The pictures below illustrate some of the diversity and richness of Tom's life. Click on a picture to show an enlarged view. Click the "Back" button to return to this page.

Click on a picture to show an enlarged view.

Tom and Joanne Tucker at the 2007 Chamber Banquet Tom and Joanne as Grand Marshals in the 2005 Goose Festival parade Tom receives the Citizen of the year award for 2004. Shown here with Senator Patti Birkholz Tom's Citizen of the year Certificate and Medal.
Tom in drag after the "Mad Hatter Road Rally." All the drivers wore costumes Tom is accepted into the "Top Ten Salesmen" club for Porsche-Audi, 1978 Tom at the rally checkpoint in 1959 Tom with two of the MC's at the 1998 Goose Festival
Besides the Piano, Tom plays the Trumpet and Cornet.  Tom with Gary Fencik, a Safety with the Chicago Bears Tom with two of the "Honeybears" Cheerleaders for the Chicago Bears 1978 Tom was a "Ladies Man" even back in 1935 when this shot was taken
Tom driving an MG in the Midwest Council Race, Meadowdale International, June, 1961 Tom standing beside a 1962 Lotus Elite. The pretty lady is Tom's wife, Joanne Tom playing the Club Seville in Grand Rapids, 1947 One of Tom's VW's. This one's a 1962 Model.
Tom's High School graduation picture. A "young man with a horn" 1944 He's older now, but still has his horn Tom in a TR3 with club member Susie Andrews. 1960 May, 1962. Tom races the Sprite in the Chicago Region SCCA

Tom the Disc Jockey
Tom's love of cars shows in his collection illustrated above. There's hardly a space on the wall in his downstairs rec room where he doesn't have some of his models displayed.

Hit Counter