Tucker's Birthday

Tucker's 90th birthday photos

Arthur Wilson Tucker, known to friends and loved ones variously as Sanford Vaid, Hoy Ping Pong, Codger and Pops, passed away on October 6, 2006 at Northside Hospital in Pinellas Park, Florida.

But most of us knew him as Bob

Bob was born on November 23, 1914 in Deer Creek, Illinois. When his mother (Mary Lee Ross) died in 1921, his father (James Ira Tucker) sent Bob and his brother James to live at Vistory Hall, an orphange in Bloomington, Illinois. Their sister, #### went to live
mother died when he was seven, and his father sent Tucker and his
brother to an orphanage in 1926.
Bob lived much of his life in Bloomington, moving away only a few months ago
following his wife's death. He died last Friday in St. Petersburg, Florida. The
memorial will be in Bloomington in a few weeks, with arrangements being made by
the Calvert Metzler Funeral home. But I don't believe that they normally send a
notice to the Pantagraph until a few days before the service.

Bob was a national figure. Outside the science fiction community, he was known
as the writer of 60 novels and short stories: science fiction, mystery and
action adventure. His work was recognized with major honors, among them being
the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for the best science fiction novel of the
year 1970, selection as the second ever Author Emeritus by SFWA in 1996, and
induction in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2003. NASA invited
him to the Cape to push the button and launch one of their rockets.

Bob was even more well known within the community known as Fandom. He was
involved from the start and (along with Forrest J. Ackerman) is one of the two
best known science fiction fans of all time. He published magazines, contributed
to other publications, helped host the 2nd World Science Fiction Convention
(Chicago in 1940), and was a major guest at over 100 conventions.

Many of the traditions in science fiction can be traced to Bob, including the
practice of using the names of real people in stories, which is now known as
Tuckerism. The Oxford English Dictionary recognizes his coining of the term
"space opera."

In Bloomington, he worked as a theater projectionist at all of the old motion
picture theaters. The only one still in existence is the Castle Theater, where
he first met his wife of 53 years. He served as Electrician for concerts and
road companies at Illinois State University. He was past President of Local 193
of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Motion Picture
Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts.

Bloomington and the surrounding area appeared in many of Bob's stories, and
copies of his time travel novel, The Lincoln Hunters, are in the Lincoln
Presidential Library.

In recent years, when Bob was unable to travel, several events came to
Bloomington to honor or include him. Most notable was the Tucker Tribute, where
over 100 of his family and friends from across the US and Canada held a special
weekend to honor him and his wife. The mayor of Bloomington proclaimed August 4,
2001, Wilson "Bob" and Fern Tucker Day. At that event, there were notes of
congratulations from such well known writers as Larry Niven and Sir Arthur C.

His death was marked by a brief ceremony involving nearly a 1,000 people,
Saturday night at Archon, a 2000 person science fiction convention held in
Collinsville, Illinois last weekend, and he will be honored at many upcoming
conventions. The 2007 North American Science Fiction Convention is being
dedicated to Bob.

Photos copyright 2005 by Keith Stokes.