Ken Tucker inspired many who knew him
The former head pro at Everett Golf and Country Club, who died recently, was "one special guy," longtime friends say.
Ken Tucker, a former head pro at the Everett Golf & Country Club, died March 20 at age 99.
Ken Tucker (right) with Bing Crosby (second from right) at the Bing Crosby Pro-Am in an undated photo. The two men on the left are unidentified. Tucker, the former head pro at Everett Golf and Country Club, died March 20.
The blessing is that for 99 years, plus a few months, Tucker enjoyed an abundant life. It was a life he shared with a loving family and many dear friends, and in his later years he filled it with hobbies like fishing and, of course, golf.
Tucker, the head pro at Everett Golf and Country Club from 1936 to 1978, died on March 20 of natural causes. He would have turned 100 on Nov. 10.
"He was certainly an inspiration to all of us," said Everett G&CC member Bob Lee, who first met Tucker in 1965. "Not only with how he conducted himself on the golf course, but how he conducted himself off the golf course as well.
"I was hoping he'd make it to 100," Lee added. "We'll miss him, but it was certainly a life well lived."
"I don't have the vocabulary to express my admiration for Ken," said Ed Werlich, another longtime Everett G&CC member and one of Tucker's equally longtime friends. "He was one special guy, that's for sure."
Tucker was born in Seattle on Nov. 10, 1912, but his family moved to Everett when he was a small child. He took up golf as a boy and started caddying at Everett G&CC when he was 12. Later he helped start the first golf team at Everett High School, where he graduated in 1932.
A year later Tucker turned professional by taking a job at a course in Lacey. Three years later he returned to become the head pro at Everett G&CC and he remained in that role for 42 years, save for the years of World War II when he served in the Pacific with the U.S. Navy.
In his early days at Everett G&CC, Tucker supplemented his income by traveling in the winter to play in PGA Tour events. In 1937 he played in the first National Pro-Am Golf Championship while staying at the home of entertainer and tournament host Bing Crosby in Rancho Sante Fe, Calif., where the event was held in its early years. Tucker played in the event -- today known as the ATT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and located since 1947 in Pebble Beach, Calif. -- every year until 1963.
He also played in the 1939 PGA Championship at Pomonok Country Club in Flushing, N.Y., where he reached the second round of the then-match play event.
But even in the years he was competing against some of the country's top pro golfers, he never overlooked his responsibilities at Everett G&CC.
"He felt it was very important to keep his pulse on the membership (at the club)," said Brent Webber, Everett G&CC's current head pro. "He always had time for the members."
"Being a golf pro is a tough job, but he had the respect of the members to a remarkable extent," Werlich said. "He was so highly respected. And he had integrity. If Ken told you something, you could take it to the bank."
He was, Lee added, "the consummate club pro."
Every year Tucker enjoyed playing in the Everett High School golf team's alumni tournament. He became the event's honorary starter and continued playing a full 18 holes until he was well into his 90s.
Likewise, Tucker had a regular Thursday game with friends at the club until 2010, when it finally became too difficult.
The participants in those Thursday games changed over the years because "as people aged, some would drop," said longtime golfing pal Al Schlicker. "But right up to the last there were four or five of us. And one time we added up all the ages, and the average age of the fivesome was 92 with Ken being the oldest."
As much as Tucker loved being on the golf course, he was equally happy on fishing trips around Washington and elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest, including Alaska.
"He just loved to fish, and he probably loved it as much as golf," Schlicker said. "Trout fishing and steelhead fishing gave him something to do when he couldn't play golf. He'd say, 'I have to make a living and that's why I play golf. But I sure love to fish.'"
In later years Tucker lived in Seattle, and as his health declined he got up to Everett less and less. But he always cherished those visits, said his wife Mary, who married Tucker in 1975, four years after the death of his first wife Rita.
"Everett (G&CC) was very dear to him," Mary Tucker said.
Likewise, she said, Tucker was very dear to many of the club's members.
"He was loved by all," she said. "In all the time I knew him -- and I dated him for two years before we were married -- I never heard anybody say anything bad about him. It was always good. He was just wonderful, wonderful man."
EG&CC will host an informal reception with Tucker's family today from 1-3 p.m.
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