Donald Kenneth Tucker age 90, of Gabriels, died peacefully in his sleep on Friday, 14 October 2016.
He was born February 27, 1926 in Gabriels, the son of Joseph James and Flora Louisa (Hobart) Tucker.
Don attended elementary school at the Gabriels School in the Town of Brighton and later graduated from Saranac Lake High School with NYS Regents Diploma in 1943. After high school Don joined his father growing potatoes on Hobart Road and remained a potato farmer for the rest of his life. In 1966 after his uncle, Frank Hobart, died, his farm was merged with the Hobart Farm, a seed potato operation of high reputation. Together with his brother, E. Mark Tucker, Tucker Farms was run as a partnership growing certified seed potatoes. Tucker Farms was incorporated in 1973 and Don served as vice-president for many decades. Nonetheless, even as a seed grower, Don continued serving his regular customers with table stock potatoes. Don also took over potato deliveries from his father, the ‘potato run’ became a ritual for him. It was a chance to get off the farm, to see his friends and to sell potatoes at local stores and later restaurants.
During his spare time at a very early age, Don took advantage of his mechanical expertise and aptitude and would often repair automobiles for his friends and neighbors. He eventually set up a side-business called Tucker Garage for such work. He also operated a feed and dog food business and was a sales distributor on his own for Blue Seal Feeds. At some point, he was also an Alpo dog food distributor. Don had also operated a snow plow business for many decades and plowed driveways for over 50 customers as far away as Rainbow Lake.
Don was a long-time member and officer of the Brighton & Harrietstown (B&H) Grange and had served as the Grand Master until its closure. He was a life-long member of the Roman Catholic Church of the Assumption in Gabriels and was a member of the Peter A. Ward Knights of Columbus Council #7803. For many years, Don was also in charge of setting up the Town of Brighton voting machines for various elections. He was a life-long Democrat, despite the fact that his wife, Ruth, was a life-long Republican.
During his life-time, Donald was a member of the Adirondack Potato Growers’ Cooperative Association, the Franklin County Seed Potato Growers’ Association and the Empire State Potato Club (now the Empire State Potato Growers’ Association). He always joined a group of Franklin County potato growers to bake potatoes at the Empire State Potato Club booth at the State Fair in Syracuse. He also baked potatoes with them at the potato growers’ booth at the Franklin County Fair.
During the late 1940s and through the 1950s, Don was a musician of some local renown until his ear surgery in 1963. While a young adult, he taught himself to play the fiddle (violin), tenor banjo (four-string), guitar and mandolin, all from a book. From this beginning, he was asked to join other local musicians to play at various functions in and around Gabriels and Rainbow Lake. For several years he played and sang with local groups for dances and local festivities.
Don never did achieve wealth or acclaim, he was locally recognized as someone who could be counted on to come to the rescue of those in trouble. He regularly gave his time to help out those less fortunate than himself. One of his proudest life-achievements was being a life-long blood donor. He often bragged about donating well more than 100 pints of blood even though he was a farmer and even though he was not supposed to lift anything heavy after donating his blood.
When his wife of some sixty years, Ruth, became incapacitated with COPD, he dropped everything at the farm and became her full-time care-giver. He devoted his time to her constant care for some five years until her eventual death in 2011.
Don is survived by, his children: Richard E. Tucker of Niskayuna, Steven A. Tucker of Gabriels, James A. Tucker (Michele) of Gabriels and Thomas D. Tucker of Gabriels, one brother E. Mark Tucker of Rainbow Lake, three grandchildren Lawrence Tucker (Margo) of Whiting, VT, Michael Tucker (Arielle) of Zurich, Switzerland and Benjamin H. Tucker of Gabriels, and step-grandchildren, Tyler Rule of Queensbury, NY, Mary Hobart Morse of Colorado Springs, CO, and many, many cousins, nieces and nephews. He had one great granddaughter, Eleanor.
Calling hours will take place at the Fortune-Keough Funeral Home on Tuesday October 18, 2016 from 2:00 PM to 4 PM and 7:00 PM to 9:00. A mass of Christian burial will take place at 11:00 AM on Wednesday October 19, 2016 at Church of the Assumption in Gabriels. Burial will follow in Mountain View Cemetery in Gabriels.
Friends wishing to remember Mr. Tucker may make memorial contributions to the Paul Smiths Gabriels Volunteer Fire Department or the Peter A. Ward Knights of Columbus Council #7803.