Richard F. Tucker of Fairfield, one of Norwalk High School's great scholar athletes, who retired in 1991 as president of the Mobil Oil Company and vice chairman of the parent Mobil Corporation, died Jan. 31 in Norwalk Hospital. He was 82.
Mr. Tucker had been 41 years in the oil industry and had been Mobil president for the last five of his 30 years with the corporation. As chief operating officer of one of the world's top 10 corporations, he was responsible worldwide for 63,000 employees producing $63 billion in annual revenue. He was also responsible for the expanded Mobil footprint embracing the Montgomery Ward Company and the Container Corporation. The Esso (now Exxon) Oil Company had been his initial employer for five years before a move to Caltex for a similar period.
“Dick was atypical among chief executives in my experience for his honest, straight-forward approach,” said Robert P. Amrhein, Mobile Corporation vice president for human resources, in 1996.
Mr. Tucker had taken a five-year degree with high distinction in chemical engineering from Cornell University in 1950, interrupted by a two-year stint in the U.S. Navy.
He maintained a lifelong relationship with Cornell where he was named a trustee in 1973 and remained active for a quarter century by serving as a university and then a presidential councilor. During that period, he served on the Executive Committee, Investment Committee, Buildings and Property Committee, Alumni Affairs and Development Committee, Audit Committee and Proxy Review Committee. He also chaired the Corporate Liaison Committee, co-chaired the College of Engineering Campaign Committee and was a member of the Capital Campaign Committee for the Johnson Graduate School of Management. He was a member of the advisory councils of the College of Engineering and the Johnson School where he was named to its Hall of Honor. He was a member of the Joint Board of New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, and in 1992 was elected a life member of the Board of Overseers of the Medical College after serving as vice chairman from 1982 to 1986 and as chairman from 1986 to 1988. He was given trustee emeritus status in 1992. He was also a Norwalk Hospital trustee for several years.
“Dick has been an indefatigable host and leader of our alumni, and a great joy to work with,” said Murray A. Deathe, director of development and alumni affairs of the Cornell College of Engineering, also in 1996.
Mr. Tucker was a director of the Perkin-Elmer Corporation, U.S. Trust Corporation, Nova Pharmaceutical Corporation and the American Petroleum Institute. He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Council on Foreign Relations.
A native of New York City raised from the age of 13 at 8 Harstrom Place in Rowayton, he graduated from Norwalk High School in 1944 as the “most brilliant male” and was elected president of the NHS National Honor Society. He was also captain of cross country and track teams as a top notch distance runner and was high scorer for the ice hockey sextet where his six foot, four-inch frame stood out in a sport not known for the height of its players. The NHS Alumni Association installed him on its Wall of Honor Nov. 17, 1996.
It was during this period that Mr. Tucker first gave indication of the potential for future leadership as senior patrol leader with Troop 2 Boys Scouts of America in Rowayton.
Mr. Tucker was the son of Frank Tucker, a Canadian Air Force flight instructor during World War I, who was later a business executive. His father died when his only son was 12 from complications believed related to his military service. He was also the son of Marion Ohm Tucker, a statuesque woman who headed the payroll department of Pitney Bowes Inc. in Stamford, and was descended from Georg Simon Ohm, the German physicist who discovered the “ohm,” a unit of electrical resistance. Mother and son made their home with her parents in Rowayton.
Mr. Tucker was the husband of Genevieve Martinson Tucker, a 1947 NHS graduate and alumnus of the University of Connecticut. They married young and remained close, raising two children at 11 Over Rock Lane in Westport during a 36-year stay before moving to Fairfield a decade ago. They've had a second home on Nantucket Island for several years. Their son, Jeffrey Tucker, in real estate investment in Atlanta, Ga., competed in the 1980 Winter Olympics in the luge events, and later became an ABC-TV reporter on that olympic specialty. Their daughter, Jocelyn Tucker Pearson of Fairfield, is a homemaker. There are four grandchildren. FXF
Published in The Hour on Feb. 20, 2009.