Citizens' Tribute Paid Jim Tucker

Return to "Our Town" index
'Our Town' Logo

James W. Tucker, Sr.

-- April 4, 1885 - November 3, 1961 --

Hampton Union, Thursday, November 9, 1961

Citizens from all walks of life attended funeral services for James W. Tucker, Sr., 76, who died Friday evening at his home, 7 Ann's Lane.

Business places in Hampton center were closed from 1 to 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon during the service at the First Congregational church, conducted by Rev. Floyd G. Kinsley of Westbrook, Maine, a former pastor of the Hampton church.

Mr. Tucker was well known throughout the seacoast area and New Hampshire for his public relations and legislative work for many organizations and beach projects.

He served as executive secretary of the Hampton Beach Chamber of Commerce for 11 years, from 1930 to 1941, resigning to enter the real estate business. He later served as executive secretary of the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce from 1943 to 1948.

During World War I, Mr. Tucker was executive secretary of the Federal Food Administration in New Hampshire.

It was in 1938, during the observance of the 300th anniversary of Hampton, that Mr. Tucker proposed a resolution at town meeting restoring full citizenship to Eunice "Goody" Cole who had been accused and convicted of witchcraft in 1656.

Citizens assembled at the 1938 town meeting voted unanimously to repudiate the charges made by their ancestors nearly 300 years before and the move received nation-wide publicity.

The "Goody" Cole project was but one of many initiated by Mr. Tucker during the course of his active life.

One of his outstanding accomplishments was the modernization of the Lane Memorial Library to its present status as one of the best of all libraries in New Hampshire.

Again at a town meeting, this time in March, 1957, Mr. Tucker was successful in getting the townspeople to appropriate $25,000 to match a $10,000 gift by the Lane family to build a much needed addition to the town library and to renovate the older section.

Mr. Tucker served as chairman of the building committee which succeeded in having the new wing open to the public on Nov. 25 of that same year, with the formal dedication taking place January 5, 1958.

Mr. Tucker was probably best known for his column, "Our Town" which was carried weekly in the UNION for the past 11 years. Several of his articles were reprinted in the Congressional Record. One particular column entitled, "Mary Baker Eddy's New Shoes", sold thousands of reprints to members of the Christian Science church throughout the entire country.

Throughout his active life, Mr. Tucker aided hundreds of local projects through his promotional ability and was presented the first "Man of the Year" award last June 20 by the Hampton Beach Chamber of Commerce "in recognition of unselfish service in behalf of the community".

He was a charter member, past president and secretary of the Hamptons' Kiwanis club and was fondly known as "Mr Kiwanis", because of his effective work for the service club, the last project for which he was primarily responsible being the Batchelder Park program. He was also a charter member of the Exeter - Hampton Elks lodge.

Mr. Tucker became a resident of Hampton in 1930, moving here from Dover, but had previously spent summers at Hampton Beach since 1915 where he had been active in the formation and development of the original Board of Trade. For several years he published a summer newspaper, the Hampton Beach News-Guide.

A native of Concord, he was born April 4, 1885, the son of Henry and Ida (Silver) Tucker. He attended Concord schools and graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1909.

He leaves his wife, Mrs. Marian (Doe) Tucker; two sons, Lawrence H. of Greenhills, Ohio, and James W. Tucker, Jr. of Hampton; a daughter, Miss Phyllis Tucker of Washington, D. C.; and six grand-children.

Delegations were present at the funeral service representing the Hampton Monday club, Hampton and Portsmouth Kiwanis clubs, and the Hampton Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Serving as honorary bearers were Guy S. Amburg, Chester M. Grady, Wiere Rowell and Alfred L. Tower, all members of the Hamptons' Kiwanis club.

Bearers were John P. Dunfey, Robert J. Dunfey, William I. Elliot, Perley R. George, Edward S. Seavey Jr., and Elliot Stevens.

Burial was in the High Street Cemetery where a committal service was held by the Exeter-Hampton Elks lodge with the benediction by Rev. Kinsley.

The Elks service was conducted Monday evening at the Sturgis Funeral Home with Walter Hollis acting as exalted ruler; Harry Parr, esteemed leading knight; Donald Goddard, esteemed loyal knight; Theodore Kiley, esteemed lecturing knight; Earl B. Linaberry, secretary Richard Dunfey, trustee; Dr. William Doyle, chaplain; and John J. Foley, esquire. The eulogy was delivered by Chester M. Grady.

A lodge of sorrow will be held at the Elks home on Tuesday, Nov. 14.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Hampton Union, Thursday, November 9, 1961


Jim Will Be Missed

When a life's work is over and the written record is one of service to one's community, state and nation, what finer tribute could be ascribed to any man?

Such was the theme of Jim Tucker's career as a publicist and newspaper columnist who exemplified a degree of public spirit in the welfare of his fellow man, the equal of which is seldom witnessed in this day and age.

Throughout his long and useful career, Jim Tucker had valuable experience in many vocations, but the one he loved best, as we know, was "newspapering" -- and it was in this field that he was best known to the citizens of Hampton and New Hampshire as the writer of the column "Our Town", which has appeared on the UNION's editorial page as a weekly feature for the past 11 years.

Jim's first column appeared on August 13, 1950 and since that time he has never missed a deadline. His familiar hand printed text was generally the first copy to reach the editor's desk every Monday morning without fail and this week was no exception. For Jim -- with the thoroughness of years in newspaper work -- had finished this week's column while confined to his bed last Friday and it was at the office as usual Monday morning. Such dedication and devotion to a task is a rare commodity these days.

Jim's love for his "adopted" town of Hampton, as well as his basic philosophy behind his writings about "Our Town", are best expressed in his first column which appeared in August, 1950:

"The community's unusual historic background, its dignified physical charm and its spirit of progressiveness, appeal to me, as these same notable assets have appealed likewise to many other citizens.

"There are thousands of facets to such a jewel of a community as Hampton, most of them as bright and sparkling as the sun-kissed tips of the waves of the bordering Atlantic on a bright September morning. Some lack lustre and are dull but these dark facets of the community life in Hampton are notable, mainly because they are so comparatively few in number.

"We who live in Hampton and in all of the other little communities are the grass-roots of the nation. Our responsibilities, as citizens, are just as great and just as important as if we were citizens of the great metropolises of New York, Chicago or Los Angeles. If there is apathy in our nation toward the threat of communism, that same apathy persists in our town.

"If citizens in general allow organized groups -- often times with selfish aims -- to do their political and economic thinking for them, the chances are that we in Hampton may also lack the necessary individual incentive to study the character and the records of candidates for important public offices.

"So, it may be that from everyday happenings in our town, certain conclusions may be drawn which oftentimes have national and international importance, for we are the grass-roots of the nation and the world. And that makes our town a much more important community than we usually credit it with being. Consequently, local happenings which are chronicled in the pages of the HAMPTON UNION are oftentimes more significant than we are inclined ordinarily to believe.

"From time to time we shall be discussing these local problems -- sewers, erosion, navigation hazards, water costs and service parking, traffic, toll roads, town management and a hundred kindred subjects. And of course, they will be discussed from the standpoint of the average citizen. You are most cordially invited to join in these discussions, for it is not my town, but our town."

In the unfolding of this theme over the past 11 years, Jim Tucker wrote literally more than three-quarters of a million words, covering an almost impossible variety of subjects from, "Ambergris, Found At The Beach", to "Washington, D. C. Is Our Town, Too". The subject matter of "Our Town" columns was carefully cross-indexed by Jim's faithful helpmate, Mrs. Marian Tucker, who quietly and ever in the background, aided in the necessary research for many articles.

It was this same methodical approach and proclivity for research, that produced many outstanding columns concerning events and personages of Hampton's past, which one day will greatly aid the writing of Hampton's second history.

It was also this bent for details and thorough preparation which got Jim in hot water many times when he felt that town or school officials were built of inadequate planning and poor presentation. And because he was a good newspaperman -- and citizen -- he called the shots as he saw them.

Down through the years, some of Jim's shots went wide of the mark for, like most of us, he was human and subject to error of judgment as well as accuracy. But for the most part, his columns reflected sound judgment and clear thinking. Whether one always agreed with him is beside the point. He generally had something to say and said it well, taking a firm, clear stand on the issues of the day.

Jim would probably be classified as belong to the "old school" -- and yet his ideas of planning and development for the future were often many years ahead of the times. So advanced, in many instances, that they were often misunderstood and viewed with mistrust by many.

In addition to urging municipal planning for the betterment of the entire community, Jim always had time to help promote projects for civic groups, whether it be the annual Children's Christmas party at the beach or the Kiwanis Batchelder Park project. Over the years, he has been identified with literally hundreds of local causes -- some big, some small -- but all with a view towards bettering the community or the lot of its citizens. And at no time can we recall that any of the projects ever benefitted him, personally.

It would be impossible to delineate the number and variety of subjects, which were the subject of "Our Town" columns over the years and were, thereby, the mirror of Jim Tucker's deep and abiding interest in his "adopted" town.

But we submit that few native sons of this historic community ever gave to it more of themselves or considered its future well being more thoughtfully and with deeper conviction, than did Jim Tucker. He will be sorely missed.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Our Town"

By James W. Tucker

Hampton Union, Thursday, November 9, 1961

Mr. Tucker's final column appears below after 11 years on the editorial page of the UNION without missing an issue. A real newspaper man to the last, Mr. Tucker prepared this week's column while confined to his bed last Thursday and Friday and it was at the UNION office as usual Monday morning.

A Great Book -- Pride in Local Schools

We never read a more interesting or more instructive book than Theodore H. White's "The Making of the President 1960." It is little to be wondered that the book has been either at the top, or near the top, of all the "best seller" lists for several months.

Small Plurality

Although Democrat Jack Kennedy was made President by the very small plurality of 112,881 popular votes out of a total of 68,832,818 (Kennedy got 49.7%; Nixon, 49.6%; other candidates 0.7%) we believe White's book will be read by even more Republicans than Democrats. G.O.P. mistakes are pointed out which, if avoided, might have returned Nixon victorious.

A Great Book

We wish that every citizen of our town would read, "The Making of the President, 1960", not particularly because of the detailed and highly interesting manner in which the present presidential campaign is covered, but rather for its vast store of valuable general information relating to our country -- its growth, its resources and its government.

Unusual Facets

Mr. White's human interest story of national politics is a revelation, even to those who may feel they know about all there is to know concerning what goes on behind the scenes in the great rival organizations. Of course there were many most unusual facets to the giant political battle of 1960 and Mr. White tells of the religious issues the television debates and all the other unique campaign incidents, with knowledge born of active personal participation in these colorful events.


Because Hampton is an integral part of that great national phenomena, "Suburbia," we were particularly interested in Mr. White's description of the nation's physical growth which has led to the immigration of the residents from all the great cities, except Los Angeles, and from our rural sections to those newly developed suburban areas which girdle the nation's metropolitan centers, making great population belts which are hundreds of miles long.

Population Jump

The population growth between the 1950 and 1960 census was 18 percent -- from 151,300,000 to 179,300,000 -- the greatest decennial percentage jump in half a century. And this growth has centered on "Suburbia," where people dwell in Capes, ranch houses, split levels, etc., cleverly arranged in large lots in beautifully developed sub-divisions which boast of country atmosphere. In Hampton, we are well acquainted with the meaning of "Suburbia." In fact many of us got the idea that it was a purely local phenomena.

Suburban Belts

On the east coast the main suburban belt extends from Florida to Boston with a rapidly growing smaller belt which extends from Boston to Bangor. Passengers on night plane trips from Florida to Boston ten or fifteen years ago noted occasional concentrations of lights as they flew over cities. Nowadays there is a nearly continuous belt of lights that extends from the Sunshine state to the Bay State.

Housing Industry

As "Suburbia" has grown, housing and construction have become the nation's biggest industry, employing five per cent of all Americans in 1960.

As a matter of fact, of all the homes in America, one quarter have been built since 1950 and over $116 billion of mortgage money has been used up in the past ten years by "Suburbia, U.S.A." Another phenomenon of the last decennial period, described in detail in Mr. White's latest book, is the movement of the negro to the north and west. "The Making of the President 1960" is a dynamic volume that will inspire every thoughtful citizen of our town and of every other town.

Kindly Allusions

Last week, in the hope of offsetting Chairman Pierson's allegation that we used Winnacunnet High and the Cooperative District as a "Whipping boy," we reprinted some of the many allusions we have made to this educational institution and to its management -- allusions which we felt were of a complimentary nature. We didn't have room for all that we wanted to use, so we are adding a few more this week.

Economy and 3R's

We shall continue to urge economy of operation and emphasis on the three R's in teaching methods, but all in all we are certain that our public schools -- elementary and secondary -- are equal to or superior to all other public schools in the state. Here are the quotes:

For Pierson Plan

On March 31, 1960 -- "Knowing something of the great need for bettering the physical fitness of the youth of America; having been made recently aware of the handicaps and limitations involved in the use of Tuck Field by Winnacunnet High School and having been greatly impressed by the logic of Dr. Harold Pierson's excellent presentation of the need of converting a few acres of school property into playing fields for physical education, we were sorry to see the special article covering this improvement defeated. Our national welfare is best served when all recipients of public education possess strong, healthy bodies."

Takes Just Pride

The June 2, 1960 column expressed keen regret because of the resignation of Principal Edmund A. Tanzi, " . . . . . all in all, Winnacunnet is a school in which our town takes just pride." The Aug. 25, 1960 column contained a tribute to local school boards and in Our Town of Oct. 27, 1960 it was stated: " . . . . our town has not been dragging its feet as far as its obligation to our public schools is concerned."

Proud of Schools

In conclusion we quote from our column of Sept. 7, 1961: "Labor Day is also a sign post to indicate the opening of schools and in our town that is a significant event for Hampton has good reason to be proud of its schools." And again, "We believe we can have faith in our town's schools because our school boards, local and regional, and all our educational administrators fully appreciate the high importance of wholly adequate teaching staffs."

We believe a major step forward was taken in controlling our town's problems in the field of elementary public education when it was voted to build and to equip a new wing to be added to the south side of the present Hampton Academy Junior High School at the special meeting held on Monday, Oct. 30. And the vote was no scrawny mandate -- it was king size approval of a plan which had been long in the making. That it was so well received is due to the efficient manner in which it was handled by and presented by the special building committee which spent long hours in examining all phases of our elementary school housing needs and the most economical manner of filling them.

Return to "Our Town" index