William E. “Bill” Tucker of Lansing passed away April 14, 2017, after suffering a stroke. The son of British immigrants, he was born July 1, 1926, in Detroit, Michigan. Bill earned the rank of Eagle Scout while a student at Redford High School.
He joined Junior ROTC at age 15 after hearing of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Two years later, he chose to leave his senior year at high school in order to join the United States Navy. In August 1944, he was assigned to a new destroyer, USS Henry A. Wiley, where he served as a range-finder on the gun crew when the ship went into action first at Iwo Jima and subsequently at Okinawa. The Wiley and its entire crew were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for outstanding performance in action against an enemy of the United States, one of only 26 destroyers so honored during the war.
Back home in Detroit, Bill began serving a formal apprenticeship in carpentry. He earned his journeyman’s certificate in 1952 shortly before being recalled by the Navy to serve in the Korean War. Returning once again to civilian life, he formed his own carpentry business and began contracting the framing and finishing of single-family tract houses. His work soon expanded to the Lansing area where he built upwards of 20,000 homes in subdivisions developed by Francis N. Fine.
Tucker, Inc. expanded into building multi-family housing projects throughout the Lower Peninsula. In 1963, Bill was awarded honorary membership in the lumber and building materials fraternity, Sigma Lambda Chi. Governor George Romney appointed Bill to the newly-created state licensing board that established rules for the bonding and licensing of builders. On November 10, 1966, Tucker, Inc. was granted Residential Builder license number 00002.
Boating was Bill’s passion from 1968 to 2010. He shared his love of the sea with his wife and First Mate, Jewel, and together they enjoyed forty years of motor yacht cruising, from California through the Panama Canal; from the Great Lakes, down the Mississippi River, around the Bahamas, up the Intracoastal Waterway and through the Welland Canal back to the Great Lakes. Along the way, Bill enjoyed videotaping his travels and editing the footage into enjoyable films for his family and friends.
Bill retired from business at age 58. After selling the last of their custom-designed boats, Bill and Jewel continued their love affair with the sea by embarking on commercial cruise ships which eventually took them to all seven continents.
From humble beginnings as a child of the Great Depression to a successful businessman who visited ports of call around the world, Bill lived the epitome of the American Dream. He couldn’t have done it without the loyalty and enduring love and support of the former Jewel Amelia Buchbinder, his wife of more than 68 years. They raised three daughters and enjoyed many sea-going and land-based adventures with their six grandchildren and three great-granddaughters.
He is survived by Jewel and his daughters Beverly (David) Lang of Perry, Michigan; Barbara Tucker of Atlanta, Georgia; and Janet (Peter) Hughes of Tallahassee, Florida; grandchildren Amy Lang Sjoberg of Dewitt, Ian (Lauren Rutledge) Lang of Lafayette, Colorado; William Baggerman and Daniel Baggerman of Atlanta, Georgia; Emily Hughes of Nashville, Tennessee; and Anna Hughes of Tallahassee, Florida. Also surviving are great-granddaughters Bailey and Abby Sjoberg and Charlotte Lang as well as numerous cousins in Michigan, Arizona, California, England, and Australia.
The funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, at the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel. Interment will follow in Deepdale Memorial Gardens. The family will receive friends from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. on Monday at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial Walk of Honor, PO Box 237, Royal Oak, Michigan 48068, www.MichiganWW2memorial.org. An online guestbook may be signed or condolences sent to Bill’s family at www.EstesLeadley.com