Jacksonville lost one of its greatest civic leaders with the death of John Tucker, III, at the age of 93.
I was fortunate enough to be one of his friends for many years and always marveled at how much he did for the community with so little recognition.
The first time I ever saw him was about 1960. I was a young reporter, sent to the Mayflower Hotel cover a luncheon speech, which usually was a boring exercise.
In this case it wasn’t. Tucker, then an executive and rising young star at Southern Bell, gave the speech and it was apparent that he knew what he was talking about, believed in it and could communicate it to others effectively.
Just a few years later he became part of my chain of command as president of the newspaper where I worked, and he remained there more than 20 years. Again, I saw him, usually under the radar, working to help alcoholics, helping to bring the professional golf headquarters to Jacksonville and in other ventures. He was always solution oriented, taking on problems directly and enlisting the aid of others to help.
You couldn’t say no to Tucker when he asked for your help. You didn’t want to.
He was deeply religious and considered his activities to be the Lord’s work.
For a number of years after I retired I had lunch monthly with Tucker and a handful of other civic leaders. He remained in touch with current events and always had incisive views on problems and ways to resolve them.
He was an avid and excellent golfer. To my regret we only got to play golf together one time and he won but it was one loss I didn’t regret a bit.
Tucker was proof that you don’t have to be a politician to perform public service or to be a huge asset to the community. Jacksonville could use more like him.