Frederick A. Tucker Jr., 89, a retired insurance company executive, active University of Pennsylvania alumnus, and longtime advocate for early childhood education, died on Friday, May 20, at the Waverly Heights community in Gladwyne.
“My father was a true gentleman whose life was distinguished by kindness,” said his youngest son, Matthew, of Philadelphia.
“He was always very involved in the community and believed very much in education,” said Matthew Tucker, describing his father as modest, witty, a lover of literature, and a master of puns.
“My father enjoyed the old-fashioned art of letter writing” he said. “He loved to sketch and paint with watercolors, and he played tennis until he was 82.”
Born on March 31, 1933, Mr. Tucker — known to all as Fred — grew up in Germantown, attended Episcopal Academy, and in 1955 graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn he was president of the Psi Upsilon fraternity, captain of the soccer team, a member of the Sphinx Senior Society of honor students, and a Naval ROTC member. After graduation Mr. Tucker served with the U.S. Navy as an ensign and later, as a lieutenant (junior grade) until 1958.
Mr. Tucker followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and father and took a job in the insurance business, joining the firm of Biddle, Bishop & Smith in Philadelphia in the 1960s. He bought the company in the 1980s, renaming it Biddle & Co. and later establishing an in-house firm called Biddle Insurance Services. He retired, at 83, on Dec. 31, 2016.
“My father didn’t need his name in the title, despite owning the company,” Matthew Tucker said. “Biddle was an old, well-respected firm, and he wanted to maintain that legacy.”
A devoted Penn alumnus, Mr. Tucker, along with his wife, Mary, endowed the Frederick and Mary Tucker Scholarship in 2005. So far it has enabled 17 students to attend Penn.
“The scholarship also gave my parents a chance to get to meet the students they were supporting,” Matthew Tucker said.
Mr. Tucker “was a longtime alumni volunteer and a leader for the Class of 1955,” said Jean M. Findlay, Penn’s senior director of development.
“He was one of the most loyal volunteers I’ve had the honor of working with. He cared deeply about education and giving back, and he did all of this in his characteristically unassuming manner,” Findlay said.
Mr. Tucker was a believer in early childhood education as a foundation for success and served for many years as board president of the Lincoln Day Nursery, later the Lincoln Day Educational Center, in Philadelphia. As a young adult, he was a volunteer in the Big Brother program.
A Bryn Mawr resident for 44 years before he and his wife moved to Waverly Heights in 2017, Mr. Tucker served on the board of the Academy of Vocal Arts as well as on the board of Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia. He was a commander of the Pennsylvania Commandery-Military Order of Foreign Wars, served as president of the Rittenhouse Club, and was on the admissions committee of the Union League of Philadelphia.
Mr. Tucker met Mary Hutchinson on a date arranged by their mothers, who played bridge together. The couple married in 1962.
In addition to his wife and son Matthew, Mr. Tucker is survived by son William, daughter Margaret DeTemple, and four grandchildren.
The funeral was May 27 at St. Peter’s Church in the Great Valley. Burial was private.
The family suggests donations in Mr. Tucker’s memory may be made to St. Peter’s Church, 2475 St. Peter’s Road, Malvern, Pa. 19355.