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Dave Tucker, 88 of Ontonagon, long time teacher and basketball coach, died on October 29 2023, at the Aspirus Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff, Wisconsin after a lengthy illness.
He was born in Superior, Wisconsin on August 10 1935, the tenth child and seventh son to Joseph and Bridget (Manley) Tucker. He attended the Superior Cathedral Schools, where he was a star athlete and altar boy. The football team his senior year was undefeated and unscored upon, and his basketball team lost in the State Finals. He was named a High School All-American basketball player and was chosen to play in the North-South All Star Game in Murray Kentucky (a forerunner of the McDonalds All-American Game). A number of schools offered him scholarships in football and basketball including Notre Dame, but he chose to play basketball at the University of Minnesota on a Williams Athletic Scholarship, becoming the first in his family to attend college. He was a three-year starter for the Golden Gophers and was captain of the '56-'57 team. He averaged a double-double (points and rebounds) while at Minnesota and is still fifth all time in rebounds per game in a career. The St Louis Hawks of the NBA wanted to draft him in the fifth round, but he was called to walk a different path.
He married his high school sweetheart Janis Connolly, and the young couple moved to Ontonagon, Michigan to raise their family. Dave initially coached all sports and taught high school math while Jan was a reporter for regional newspapers and became a local radio personality. He coached for 38 years, his basketball teams won 326 games and 9 conference titles, and he only had three losing seasons. He was known as "the Gentleman Coach" for his demeanor and grace while coaching. In 1971, along with Jim White, he volunteered to restart the long-dormant Junior Varsity football program. He retired after more than 40 years of teaching. He is a member of the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame and the Wisconsin Basketball Hall of Fame and is a two-time inductee to the Superior/Douglas County Sports Hall of Fame.
In his retirement he enjoyed fishing, golfing, and playing euchre with his grandchildren. He especially enjoyed school reunions and Labor Day Festivals, where he could reminisce with many of his former players and students.
He was a member of the Holy Family Catholic Church of Ontonagon, where he served as a lector for many years. He was a devout Catholic and enjoyed being able to attend daily Mass in his retirement. He prayed the rosary three times daily and read his family Bible frequently.
Dave was preceded in death by his parents; his young son Tim; seven brothers, Joseph, James, Francis, Patrick, Thomas "Butch", John, and Charles; three sisters, Margaret White, Patricia "Smarty" Tucker, and Mary Ann Van Damme; and several nieces and nephews.
He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Jan of Ontonagon; two sons, Dr David (Kelly) of Gravette, AR, and Patrick (Karen) of Ontonagon; three daughters, Katherine Hernandez (Jose) of Ft Worth, TX, Mary Tucker of Billings, MT, and Sara Dore (Chris) of Long Lake, MN; one brother, Michael of Superior, WI; thirteen grandchildren; Anna Tucker, Robert Tucker, Rebecca Miller, Ryan Tucker, Shannon Clinesmith, Megan Hagen, Erin Linder, Timothy Tucker, Michelle Knodell, Michel Hernandez, Katherine Dore, Jillian Dore, and Madeleine Dore; sixteen great grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be Friday, November 10th at the Cane Funeral Home from 5:30-7:00, starting with a rosary service at 5:30, followed a memory sharing with family and friends. Visitation with also be on Saturday, November 11th at 10 AM at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Ontonagon, followed by a funeral Mass at 11, with the Reverend Michael Jacobus officiating.
Dave is a two-time cancer survivor, his young son Tim and eight of his siblings died of cancer, and many other relatives have been afflicted with cancer, in lieu of expressions of sympathy, the family requests donations to the Ontonagon County Cancer Association. Alternatively, in honor of his many years of coaching and teaching, donations to the Ontonagon Area Scholarship Foundation may be made.
Cane Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
Ontonagon County Cancer Association
P O Box 282, Ontonagon MI 49953
Ontonagon Area Scholarship Foundation
PO Box 92, Ontonagon MI 49953