Respected leader, Dr. Bev Tucker, mourned by friends

May. 23, 2014 @ 08:17 PM

Henderson has lost a pillar within its community.

Dr. Bev Tucker, a longtime family physician and respected leader, died Friday morning after battling a brain tumor for more than a year. He was 73.

“Bev just was kind of a fixture in Henderson,” said Woody Caudle, executive director for the Henderson Family YMCA. “He just was kind of an icon. It's going to be strange that he's not going to be with us any longer.”

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday at First Baptist Church of Henderson by Dr. Marion Lark and Dr. Ronald Cava.

A longtime friend, Lark said Tucker handled his illness with grace.

“We knew this was coming,” he said. “There was no reversing the tumor situation in his brain. It was just a matter of time. But he was courageous throughout the whole process. It's a loss, but knowing that he could not get better, it's a release for him. We're going to miss him greatly.”

Tucker's wife, Anne, and four children were a foundation of strength for him during his illness, Lark said.

The two men first met at the church, where Tucker was an active member. But they bonded over the last year or so when Lark began driving the doctor to some of his many community engagements: Sunday school, Rotary Club and the board of directors for YMCA.

“He got to calling me his taxi driver,” Lark said. “We had every week some time together when I would pick him up and drive him home. Ever the gentleman, he would say thank you. I appreciate you. Thank you for coming by.

“It was just an increasing sort of thing, and in the last year we had a very close relationship just simply because we had a little time together each week to talk and just be together.”

Caudle said Tucker was his general practitioner for nearly 30 years, but their relationship grew closer during the campaign to bring the Y to Henderson. Tucker served on the organization's board of directors for 12 years.

The doctor fought to bring the YMCA to Vance County because of his dedication to public health.

“Bev, being a physician, he was always encouraging you to be healthy,” Caudle said. “Bev was a very healthy person until he got sick. He just thought that a YMCA was something that would encourage the community to be healthy.”

No matter how busy Tucker got with community activities, his church and his family, he enjoyed engaging the community.

“I always remember Bev had time for you,” Caudle said. “He would always talk to you. Even when he was a doctor and you went in for a physical, he had time to talk to you. I'm just remembering all the many conversations sitting in the Y office talking about the Y and other things. He always had time for everybody.”

Tucker also enjoyed helping people and giving back where he could, a spirit that helped him be named the Henderson-Vance County Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in 2012.

“Bev had a kind of a strong, dominating kind of a personality, but he had a really soft touch, too, and really, truly cared about a lot of people,” Caudle said. “He was tall in stature and that almost kind of commanded your attention, but he was always trying to help people but really in a quiet way. That was really special about Bev.”

Tucker's warmth was a credit in his professional life, too. Maria Parham Medical Center CEO Bob Singletary said Tucker recruited many doctors to Henderson. Tucker was a member of the hospital’s board of directors.

“He was such a personable and friendly person,” he said. “He was always promoting goodwill and good relations between the community and the hospital. He was a great goodwill ambassador. I'll always remember his kindness and his sense of humor and his spirit of always wanting the best for Maria Parham and Henderson.”

He was also an advocate for education, both for doctors to keep abreast of innovations in their fields and for public school students. He was the president of the Vance County Public School Foundation that provides support to the district through financial help with projects, funding of teacher workshops and grants.

Dr. Roddy Drake practiced medicine with Tucker for 16 years at Henderson Family Medicine Clinic, which is now Duke Primary Care Henderson.

The clinic, which grew to six doctors, promoted a strong team effort in which the physicians did rounds together and helped cover and diagnose each other’s patients, something Drake said led to better care for all.

“I would say he was a very dedicated and astute physician,” he said. “I always loved to talk with him about medical cases. We would share difficult cases with each other and kind of discuss the cases so we could come to the best conclusions on this. I was always impressed with his knowledge of medicine. He was always very caring and put things in perspective: to practice the art of medicine as well as the science.”

But each of Tucker's friends said Henderson had lost an advocate, the second in several months after the death of Sam Watkins in February.

Lark said what he remembers most about his friend are his faith and his character.

“He was very committed to his faith; he was dedicated to his church,” he said. “But the other characteristic that stands tall is his courage. As you know, the word courage comes from the Latin word that means heart. He just hit it head on, and he just kept going.”

Contact the writer at vshortley@hendersondispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter at @herding_stets.