SPRINGFIELD, Va. — Henry Lansing Tucker Jr. died Jan. 4, 2021, surrounded by his family at his home in Springfield, Virginia, at the age of 83 following a 20-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was born on July 6, 1937, in Henderson, North Carolina, the son of Henry L. Tucker and Julia Swindell Tucker.
Henry is survived by his wife of 58 years, Frances Reavis Tucker; by three sons and their wives, Lance (Neva), Karl (Myra), and Jason (Tanya); one brother, William Carr Tucker; eight grandchildren, Holly Dowen (CJ), Julianna Bunker (Andrew), Lacey, Jay, Madison, Kara, Abigail, and Caroline; and many nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his younger brother, John Martin Tucker.
Henry spent the first 18 years of his life in Townsville, North Carolina, where he graduated valedictorian of his high school class in 1955. He won a competition between valedictorians in Vance County, North Carolina, for the George M. Leggett Memorial Scholarship which he used to attend N.C. State College, earning a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering and a commission in the U.S. Air Force in 1959.
Following a nine-month period as a production line supervisor for a commercial company, he entered the Air Force as a second lieutenant in March 1960. He received his pilot wings in June 1961 and reached full qualification as a combat fighter pilot on July 16,1962.
He spent the next 14 years in operations and maintenance positions accumulating 3,300 hours of flying time and command pilot status in T-33, F-102, and F-106 aircraft. Assignments included remote tours in Iceland and Vietnam, and service as quality control officer and chief of maintenance and maintenance inspector for the Air Defense Command. He spent the last four years of his service at the Pentagon, managing foreign military sales for multiple countries including Kenya, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, and Jordan.
His service awards included the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Award, and the Commendation Service Medal with two Oak Leaf clusters. Retiring from the Air Force in 1980 as a lieutenant colonel, he went to work for a defense contractor, SPFInc. He worked there for 20 years, retiring as the program manager in 2000.
He enjoyed repairing automobiles, taking family photos, ballroom dancing at the Officer’s Club, traveling, and coaching and watching his sons on the soccer field. He was a devoted and loving husband, father, and grandparent who will be sorely missed by his entire family.
A graveside funeral service with full military honors will be held Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, at 2 p.m. in the cemetery of Nutbush Presbyterian Church, Townsville, North Carolina, by the Rev. David Vellenga.
In lieu of flowers, friends should consider contributions to the Nutbush Church Cemetery Fund, P.O. Box 116, Townsville, NC 27584.
Arrangements are by J.M. White Funeral Home.