Duane Haimes Tucker, 78, passed away on Monday, April 11, 2011, at his residence in Starkville. Dr. Tucker was a rugged individualist and a man of vision who lived life on his own terms with a passion and zeal for everything he did, and people he served. He was an uncommon leader who gave his all and expected no less from others. He lived his dream and inspired others to do the same.
After graduating from Mississippi State University, he began his lifelong career with the Mississippi Extension Service in 1960 as assistant county agent in Holmes County, and was promoted to associate county agent in 1964. In 1967, he received his master’s degree in extension education from MSU.
During the ten years he served in Holmes county, he organized a county livestock association, was instrumental in building a large show facility, led the state for two years with the most winners per county at state 4-H Club Congress, developed a Citizenship Club, Electric Club with 250 members, was president of the Lexington Jaycees. He was chosen as Jaycees Outstanding Young Man.
His exemplary work led to his appointment as Mississippi State Extension Livestock Specialist in 1969. In 1970, when he began studying for his doctorate at Louisiana State University, he received the SEA Grant fellowship and the Mississippi Cattleman’s Association grant. In 1973, he received his Ed.D Degree in Extension Education. Excerpts from his dissertation have been published in the prestigious Journal of Home Economics Research and Journal of Consumer affairs.
He developed the 13-state Regional Horse Show, the Sale of Champions, and served on the 4-H Horse Committee of the Southern Regional Extension Animal Science group. He was listed in Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, received the Block and Bridle Club’s “Contribution to Youth’ award, the Mississippi County Agent’s Associations’ ‘Search for Excellence’ award the Epsilon Sigma Phi ‘Outstanding Extension Worker ‘award.
In 1982, he was promoted to associate director for the Mississippi Extension Service, giving leadership to statewide agricultural programs as well as serving as the legislative liaison for Extension. His commitment, work ethic and integrity during a time of change and upheaval earned him the admiration and respect of his co-workers and clientele.
Prior to his retirement as Associate Director in 1990, he had applied for a grant from the Kellog Foundation to conduct a rural leadership program for the State. The million- dollar grant was the largest the Foundation had awarded to Mississippi at the time. Under his direction, the program, known as PRO-MISS (Promoting Rural Opportunity in Mississippi), became the gold standard for leadership programs. The 15-month intensive course graduated 165 leaders who continue to excel in their communities, state and nation. After the grant expired, former MSU President Donald Zacharias established the PRO-Miss Institute of Leadership, funded by MSU. The accomplishments of the program and the people it touched was his special joy.
After retirement from PRO-MISS, he was an active volunteer with Red Cross, serving as disaster chairman during Hurricane Katrina. Under his leadership, the Oktibbeha Chapter served hundreds of displaced people from the Coast. He also became an accomplished woodworker, and spent many happy hours in his shop.
One of his proudest accomplishments is his loving family. He leaves his devoted wife of 56 years, Elizabeth Brown Tucker; sons, Duane H. Tucker, Jr. (Shane) and wife Marsha, their sons Ansel and Olin from Davis, Calif.; Neely and wife Carol, daughter Chipo and twins Drew and Paige, from Washington, D.C.; niece/daughter Catherine Brown McMillan from N.C.; and “adopted” daughter Vani Lancaster and husband Ian from Washington, D.C.; brother, Dr. William S. Gazaway and wife Pam of Auburn, Ala.; sister, Sue Keiser and husband Ed of Oxford; brother-in-law Gus Brown of Clarksdale; and special cousin Jean Reeves and husband Ralph of Starkville.
He was the son of the late Gladys Haimes and Clayton Tucker, and was lovingly raised by his stepfather, O.E. “Pete” Gazaway.
He was a member of Calvary Baptist Church, and also attended Big Creek United Methodist Church. After a private family graveside service in Oddfellows cemetery, a Celebration of Life service will be held at Calvary Baptist Church in Starkville on Friday, April 15 at 11 a.m. at Calvary Baptist Church. A reception will follow in the church fellowship hall for visitation with the family.
Memorial contributions may be made to: Palmer Home for Children, P.O. Box 746, Columbus, MS 39703-9983; Big Creek United Methodist Church, 1734 Horseshoe Circle, Starkville, MS 39759; Calvary Baptist Church, 405 N. Jackson Street, Starkville, Ms 39759, or a charity of your choice.
The family is very grateful for the loving care and concern given to him during his illness by his many friends, loved ones and caregivers.
You can go online and sign the guest register at http://www.welchfuneralhomesinc.com .