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.
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
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
|When I asked Tom what was the
fastest he'd ever driven a car, he replied,
"Oh, about 150 miles per hour."
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..
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
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.
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
of a car dealership, Tom drove a top of the line company
car much of the time. He's "owned" literally hundreds of
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.
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.
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
pictures below illustrate some of the diversity and richness of
Tom's life. Click on a picture to show an enlarged view.
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