MOUNT HOLLY — Kevin M. Tucker, 71, passed away on Tuesday, June 19, surrounded by family at Samaritan Hospice Inpatient Center at Virtua Memorial Hospital in Mount Holly, after a long and courageous battle against a brain tumor.
Friends and family may call at the Bradley Funeral Home, 601 Route 73 South, Marlton, on Thursday, June 21 from 2 – 4 p.m. and 6 – 9 p.m. His Funeral Mass will be at St. Mary of the Lakes Church, 40 Jackson Road, Medford, on Friday, June 22, at 10:30 a.m. There will be a private internment for the family immediately following the funeral at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, East Hanover.
Born in New York City on June 21, 1940, Mr. Tucker was one of six children born to the late William and Catherine Tucker, themselves Irish immigrants. Prior to entering high school, the family moved to Rahway, where Mr. Tucker attended St. Mary High School in Elizabeth.
Mr. Tucker served in the military police of the United States Army for three years after high school and then received his undergraduate degree from New Jersey State Teacher’s College, now known as Kean University. He met his wife Judy Kreshok of Hillside while attending college, and they were married on July 16, 1966.
While in college, Mr. Tucker supported himself by working nights as a police officer in Rahway and credits his later career in the Secret Service to his single-handed apprehension of three would-be car thieves who were wanted by the Secret Service.
He was hired by the Secret Service shortly after those arrests. His first assignment was to protect First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and her children Caroline and John, following the President’s assassination. He became close with the family and remained with them until Jacqueline Kennedy remarried in 1968. He was then transferred to Secret Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he spent the next five years. During that time he and his family lived in Rockville, Maryland.
Mr. Tucker was then promoted to Special Agent-In-Charge of the Philadelphia field office, overseeing operations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. A significant highlight for Mr. Tucker during that time was managing the protection of Pope John Paul II when he visited Philadelphia in 1978. Upon leaving the Secret Service after a 20-year career, Mrs. Kennedy inscribed a book of President Kennedy’s speeches: “To Kevin Tucker, whose humor and intelligence made our time together so memorable and so missed.”
After retiring from the Secret Service, Mr. Tucker was selected in 1986 by Mayor Wilson Goode of Philadelphia to become the first outsider appointed Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department in over sixty years. During his tenure, Mr. Tucker created a special task force charged with studying the role of the Police Department in the community, which led to the establishment of community policing and other key innovations. He is credited with having brought sweeping reforms and restoring public confidence in the Philadelphia Police Department. In June, 1997, the Police Athletic League honored him by opening the Kevin M. Tucker PAL Center, located at Alexander Wilson Elementary School in Southwest Philadelphia.
Leaving the Philadelphia Police Department for the private sector, Mr. Tucker served as a Senior Vice President of PNC Bank. He was also very active in community service, founding the Corporate Alliance for Drug Education (CADE), and was a strong supporter of INROADS and the Police Athletic League, among other organizations.
Following his diagnosis with a brain tumor in 1990, Mr. Tucker became involved in biomedical research, and served for more than 12 years as a member of the Board of Managers of The Wistar Institute, a National Cancer Institute Cancer Center focused on biomedical research in Philadelphia. He chaired Wistar’s Board from 1998 until 2005. During his tenure as chair, Wistar recruited a new president, approved a new strategic plan that called for expansion of the Institute’s faculty and renewal of its facility, and made remarkable strides in fundraising and board development, among many other achievements. In 2007, Mr. Tucker was named “Man of the Year,” by Wistar, for his continued commitment and dedication to cancer research. It was his hope that though he may not benefit from this research, that others someday would find a cure in the brain tumor work being conducted at Wistar.
Mr. Tucker was an avid golfer, and enjoyed traveling and spending the winters at his home in Jupiter, Florida in his retirement. Despite a luminous career, his greatest joy was his family, who will miss him terribly.
Mr. Tucker will be remembered as a loving husband, a devoted father and a proud grandfather. Surviving is his devoted wife Judy, his daughter, Christine Tucker Boyle, and son-in-law Brian Boyle of Centreville, VA, and his son, Kevin D. Tucker, and daughter-in-law Katherine Tucker, of Danbury, CT. Kevin is also survived by his four grandchildren; Sarah Boyle, Andrew Boyle, Caroline Tucker and William Tucker, along with his twin brother John Tucker, brothers Edmund Tucker, William Tucker, and sister Kathleen Tucker Cadigan and their families. He was preceded in death by his sister, Maureen Tucker Crue.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Mr. Tucker’s memory to the Albert R. Taxin Brain Tumor Research Center at The Wistar Institute, 3601 Spruce Street, Suite 242, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Donations can be made by calling 1-215-898-3930 or online at http://www.wistar.org/our-science/research-areas/give.