(News story) George R. Tucker, a longtime northwest Ohio labor leader, who was a trustee since 2000 of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library and, mostly recently, board president, died Friday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, South Detroit Avenue. He was 78.
Mr. Tucker of Sylvania Township had cancer three times, lung cancer most recently. "He beat them all, including this last time," his wife, Deb, said. He developed aspiration pneumonia, a side effect of an earlier cancer treatment that damaged his ability to swallow, his wife said.
Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken was in leadership at Local 12, United Auto Workers in the 1990s, when he worked on social justice and voting rights issues with Mr. Tucker, whose roles then included Council 8 regional director of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees and president of the Greater Northwest Ohio AFL-CIO.
"He certainly was an icon," Mr. Gerken said. "He was so much more than a labor leader. He was a community leader. He should be a model for generations."
Mr. Tucker, appointed a library trustee by county commissioners, continued to make most board meetings as he dealt with cancer, said Susan Savage, a trustee since 2001.
"He was so cheery - 'I'm doing well, except for...'" Mrs. Savage said. "George was always a very active member. It wasn't a responsibility he took lightly. The library is something that serves all the people. George wanted to make sure everybody had the possibility of using the tools of the library and the library closest to them."
Indeed, Mr. Tucker resigned from the board of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority in December, 2016, after less than three years, because too often port and library board meetings conflicted. He said then that several library projects needed his attention - including a new Mott Branch Library.
Mr. Tucker was president in February, 2019, when longtime library director Clyde Scoles died. He led the board as it sought a successor. The board ultimately elevated deputy director, Jason Kucsma, to the top job.
Mr. Kucsma on Friday called Mr. Tucker "a true champion of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library.
"George has played an integral part in the Library's evolution over the last two decades," Mr. Kucsma said in an email. "Perhaps one of his most notable contributions to the library was the creation of Labor Loves the Library, a celebration of the region's rich labor history and a fundraiser for the Rogowski-Kaptur Labor History Room in the library's local history and genealogy department."
That celebration has raised nearly $50,000, allowing the library to buy more than 650 titles for the reading room.
Mr. Tucker stepped down in January, 2019, as executive secretary-treasurer of the Greater Northwest Ohio AFL-CIO.
As a city of Toledo worker, Mr. Tucker started in the sign ship. Later, in building inspection, he became a union steward for AFSME Local 7. He became Local 7 president in 1981 and then became a Council 8 staff representative. He retired from Council 8 leadership in 2004. He agreed in 2012 to come out of retirement and serve as director for a year.
He had roles in such organizations as the United Labor Committee, the Toledo Port Council, and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.
"He always worked to bring people together," his wife said. "None of this you-against-me or trying to work it so you look good."
The Ohio AFL-CIO on Twitter, said: "Today, we lost a 1st-class trade unionist in George Tucker. George spent his life in the @USNavy and the labor movement looking to make the world a better place, and he succeeded. He leaves a legacy of contributions to his union @AFSCME, the @AFLCIO & the Toledo community."
He was born April 17, 1942, to Virginia and Clarence Tucker. He grew up in Point Place and was a graduate of Woodward High School. A Navy veteran, he was aboard a destroyer in the blockade of Cuba during the 1962 missile crisis.
His first wife, Laura Tucker, died in December, 1993.
Surviving are his wife, the former Deborah Laskey, whom he married Sept. 23, 1995; son, Michael Tucker; daughter, Laurie Tucker Miller; brother, Tom Tucker; six grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
Services will be private. Arrangements are by Newcomer Funeral Home in Sylvania Township.
The family suggests tributes to the Toledo Lucas County Public Library or Olivet Lutheran Church, where he was a member.
This is a news story by Mark Zaborney. Contact him at email@example.com