James H. Tucker has made a dramatic impact on our Community for 40 years. He has touched the lives of thousands of the children in Bradley County, Tennessee as Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland from 1970 through 1992. For the past 20 years, he has provided one of the basic necessities for dozens of families by assisting them with obtaining a home through the Habitat for Humanity organization. One of his biggest fans and supporters is his wife Fran to whom he has been married for almost 60 years. Fran describes Jim as having a “Big Heart with a passion for helping others.”
Jim Tucker was born in Menlo, Georgia in 1928. Jim is one of seven children with his father passing when he was just 12. Jim learned early in life the necessity of hard work if one is to be successful. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia. He is a twenty-one year veteran of the military service, two years in the Navy, nineteen in the Air Force. While stationed in Savannah, Georgia, Jim met his wife to be Fran. He and Fran have raised four fine sons ~ Tom, Fred, Bob, and Jimmy. Jim served in several parts of the world including Newfoundland, England, California, Nebraska, and Georgia. Mr. Tucker’s career prospered and he attained the rank of Lt. Colonel.
Jim began to make a difference in Cleveland, Tennessee after retiring from serving in the Air Force for 19 years and two years in the Navy. Jim began his service to the Cleveland Boys Club in June of 1970 as Executive Director. Often times he served as painter, plumber, gardener, or program director. But always, his primary focus was on the children. Jim worked tirelessly to instill pride and confidence in the children and to help them develop their potential through sports, character development, and leadership programs.
Jim was always accessible to the children and very active in all aspects of their lives. They came to him with their personal problems for answers and comfort. Jim celebrated their victories and defended them when they were wrongfully accused. Jim treated each and every child as if they were his own taking them to various places across the southeast, settling their disputes, and always encouraging them to do their best. Many of the boys from the club came from broken homes and had no father figure for guidance. Jim Tucker became the father figure that hundreds of boys needed.
Still today, it is not uncommon for Jim to run into former Boy’s Club members he developed whom he was affectionately called “Mr. T.” During his service as Executive Director Jim Tucker developed boys who became men serving all across our great country. Two of these men, Clyde McGuire and Ronnie Jenkins serve as Southeast Service Representatives for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In addition, Lonnie Groomes and Ed Deming serve as Executive Directors for clubs in the Southeast. This exemplifies the impact that Jim Tucker had on the Cleveland Boys Club as he raised up leaders to serve Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Jim also believed in growing and developing his own staff so that many members were prepared for future careers at the Cleveland Boys Club.
Jim worked hard in the early days with the Board to establish a partnership with United Way that was very beneficial to the Cleveland Boys Club. United Way funded a large portion of the operating budget plus helped with some major capitol items.
In 1976 Jim worked with the Cleveland Boys Club Board of Directors and United Way to establish a General Endowment that reached a total of $327,000 during Jim’s tenure. In 1978 Jim convinced the Board of Directors to establish a second Educational Endowment that at the end of Jim’s tenure held $110,000. The Education Endowment under Jim’s leadership funded 23 Boys & Girls with 17 graduating from college with a degree.
Jim continued to improve the relationship over the years with United Way with the evidence of this being several capital improvements. These improvements included: the replacement of the roof of the Boys Club building ($40,000), new van in 1984 ($8,720), new van in 1987 ($15,296), outside improvements and paving of parking lot ($26,000), replacing old tractor/mower ($4,900), painting and redecorating interior of building ($5,000), wrestling mat, and a project of $25,000 to relight the ball field behind the Club.
In 1989, Jim and the Board of Directors would grow to a two-unit organization with the second club opening at 1204 Lay Street. The club unit would later be named after Reba M. Powers. Jim retired as the Executive Director of the organization in 1992. Jim then served the remainder of his tenure for the organization as a Resource Development Officer. In 2004, the club at 385 3rd Street would be named the James H. Tucker Unit.
Jim Tucker is known as a man of action ~ results oriented. One of Jim’s favorite sayings is “The road to hell is paved through good intentions.” It has been Jim’s actions, not merely intentions that have truly made a difference in our Boys & Girls Club and community.