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Obituary for Karl Tucker, Funeral Set Thursday
Karl Lemuel Tucker, 83, a dearly loved husband, dad, grandpa, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, father-in-law, friend, and mentor to many, passed
away on Jan. 8, 2010. He died peacefully, at home with his family. Karl was an Orem boy from the first to the last. He was born here on Nov.
18, 1926, to Della Redd Spillsbury and George Travers Tucker, the youngest of seven children. While his family knew lean times working at tenant
farming, they had an exuberant household that fostered hard work, spirit, humor, and resourcefulness.
He attended local schools, Spencer Elementary and Lincoln High School, where he was student body president. At Lincoln, he was an all-around athlete, playing tennis, basketball, and football, but he excelled in tennis and as a senior won the state championship in the singles division. His tennis and
football coach, Sank Dixon, was one of his great influences. He also revered his band and chorus teacher, Elvis Terry, and loved his years singing in Terry’s Mendelssohn Chorus and as part of a quartet called the Townsmen.
In 1945, in the summer after he graduated, Karl was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he served until early 1947, stationed first at Camp Roberts, in California, and then at Fort Sill, in Oklahoma. In the fall of 1948, he found his way back to BYU, where he was recruited to play baseball by coach
Wayne Soffe. He also played on the tennis team and was voted BYU’s Best All-Around Athlete in 1951. It was at BYU that he met his wife-to-be, Joanne Eliason, from Manti. The two were married on Sept. 1, 1951, and began a rich and happy relationship that would last 58 years. During college,
Karl also learned to golf and ski.
He graduated from BYU in Physical Education in 1952, and knew he wanted to be a teacher. He and Joanne moved to Portland, OR, for a year, where both taught school. Other teaching jobs lured them back to Utah the next year, where Karl became a Health and PE teacher at Olympus Jr. High School
in Salt Lake, and also coached basketball, baseball, and volleyball. It was here that he found his true calling in coaching.
After seven years at Olympus, in 1961, Karl was offered the job of golf coach at BYU, and the challenge of creating a golf program there from the ground up. For the next 31 years, he carved his niche nationally as a coach, producing 19 Western Athletic Conference golf championship teams and
bringing BYU its first national championship in all sports in 1981. Karl brought a true passion to coaching, with the ability to relate to young players on their level and the interest in cultivating them not only as players but as people. His charisma and vision helped him recruit some of the country’s
best players, in spite of Utah’s wintry climate. He coached multiple WAC Players of the Year and individual champions, and 69 All-American players, nine of whom were first-team honorees. Many of his players went on to successful careers on the PGA Tour.
Karl was recognized as WAC Coach of the Year 13 times and voted the 1981 NCAA National Coach of the Year. He was inducted into a whole range of sports and golf halls of fame, both national and statewide. He received numerous awards for his contributions to state athletics and collegiate golf.
His coaching was rounded out by directing BYU’s ski school and, in 1964, he got a Master’s Degree in PE from BYU with a focus on ski-instruction techniques. For many years, Karl also ran the Willow Creek Ski School, at Alta. When he retired, he instructed the seniors classes at Sundance.
Throughout his professional life, he was active as a basketball and football official for both high school and college. Karl was a lifelong horseman, having gotten his first horse at the age of 8, and he created a bunch of other riders in his own kids and grandkids.
His retirement was an extension of his job at BYU; he continued to be involved in the golf community, civic projects, and charities.
Karl had a profound gift for making lasting friendships and for creating relationships with all the people in his life. Everyone in his family, including his in-laws, had a vital, loving attachment to him. He will be in our hearts forever.
He is survived by his wife, Joanne; his four children, Jackie (Curt) Wankier of Highland, Shellie (Jeff Thomas) Tucker of Seattle, Larry (Becky) of Provo, and Phil (Jil Goorman) of Salt Lake; his sister, Alison Schanz (Salt Lake); eight grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and many devoted nieces and nephews. Preceding him in death were his sisters Hazel and Lucile, and his brothers George, Tobe, Wayne, and Ray.
We would like to give a special thanks to Alpine Hospice of Orem, especially Dana, Verna, and Luke, who gave Dad not only their professional care but their compassion.
Funeral Services will be held on Thursday, January 14th, at 11 a.m. at the Sharon Stake Center at 545 S. 800 E., Orem, Utah. Family and friends may call on Wednesday evening, January 13, 2010, at Walker Sanderson Mortuary at 646 E. 800 No., Orem, from 6 to 9 p.m. and Thursday, January 14, 2010, at the Sharon Stake Center at 9:45-10:45 a.m. prior to the services. Interment will be held in Orem City Cemetery, 1520 North 800 East, Orem.