Katherine Shehan Tucker, 89, formerly of Merion and Brigantine, a retired school librarian and artist, died of Alzheimer's disease May 21 at Saunders House in Wynnewood.
Mrs. Tucker was born in Baltimore and grew up in Overbrook. She graduated from West Catholic High School and attended Peirce Business School in Philadelphia. In 1941, she married Bernard C. "Bon" Tucker, a Navy lieutenant. After World War II, he was a career Navy officer and then worked for RCA in Cherry Hill. When her husband was stationed at a naval base in California, Mrs. Tucker took courses in library science.
In the late 1950s, when the couple's older children were attending Lower Merion High School, Mrs. Tucker volunteered in the library there. The principal said that as long as she was going to spend so many hours at the school, she might as well be on the payroll, her son Gene said.
She and her husband later moved to Brigantine, and from 1972 until retiring in 1978 she was a librarian at Holy Spirit High School in Absecon.
A talented artist, Mrs. Tucker enjoyed working in oils and pastels, and volunteered as an art teacher at community centers wherever she was living, her son said.
When she started to become forgetful, her family thought it might be her artistic "free spirit" temperament, her son said, but when she became disoriented they grew concerned.
Mrs. Tucker acknowledged her failing memory, and in the early 1990s, she enrolled in the program at the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She participated in the center's drug- and vitamin-therapy studies for several years and arranged to donate her brain when she died to the center so that scientists might glean some knowledge from her disease, her son said.
In addition to her son, Mrs. Tucker is survived by daughters Eileen Higgins and Sharon Tucker; a son, Thomas; eight grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren. Her husband died in 2004.
A Memorial Mass will be said at 10:15 a.m. Monday at St. Matthias Roman Catholic Church, Bryn Mawr and Highland Avenues, Bala Cynwyd. Friends may call from 9:45 a.m.
Memorial donations for neurodegenerative research may be made to Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, Attn: Irene I. Lukoff, Penn Medicine Development and Alumni Relations, 3535 Market St., Philadelphia 19104.