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Monday, April 23, 2012

Tom Tucker - Superintendent of Cabrillo National Monument Memorial Service

Today, Tom Tucker, former superintendent of Cabrillo National Monument was laid to rest.
His memorial service was simple, yet full of meaning, for it exemplified the way that Tom led his life. God, Country and Family.
Tom's passing closed another chapter in the relationship between the Cabrillo National Monument and the Portuguese Community in San Diego.
It was Tom Tucker's foresight that gave worldwide projection to the Portuguese explorer at the service of Spain, Juan Rodrigues, Cabrillo, first European to set foot on what is now the shores of the Western United States.
Under his leadership, along with the late Mary R. Giglitto, the perfect team, Cabrillo Festival, gained international recognition, making it the premier history festival in the United Sates.
My first contact with Tom was in late 1974, during the Cabrillo Festival when I was introduced to him by Mary R. Giglitto and Paulo Goulart.
It was a moment of instant bonding, of mutual respect, trust and understanding that was to last many years. I appreciated his deep understanding of the human psyche, and many were the conversations we had about the relationship of the Portuguese Community and Cabrillo, both the park and the person. In his baritone voice, all conversations started with " You know Joe ....".
I will always cherish having known Tom Tucker, for he touched me in a way that only he knew how. I will always cherish his friendship and and most of all his being, Tom.
As a last gesture of my friendship and respect, I was very proud to convey to the family the condolences of the Consul of Portugal in Los Angeles, Mr. Edmundo Macedo on behalf of the Portuguese Government, who could not be present.
Tom R. Tucker, Sr. received a knighthood, from the Portuguese Government in the Order of Prince Henry the Navigator with the grade of Commander.

Below is the biography of Tom Tucker as presented in the memorial pamphlet distributed prior to the memorial service. 
I think that it is also important to review what was written by Ross Holland on the achievements of Tom Tucker and his impact on two of the parks he supervised. 

In 1963, a change of superintendents occurred and Thomas R. Tucker took over the reins of the monument. The great bulk of the development of the park was under his energetic and capable supervision. Complicating his work at this time was the fact that the other park under his jurisdiction—Channel Islands National Monument—demanded increased attention. Visitation and public use—some of it adverse—of the islands was growing, as was the acreage. The result was that personnel and equipment, including patrol boats, were added to the park. About the time that developments at Cabrillo reached an end, Channel Islands had grown to such size that it was ready to stand on its own feet, and in the spring of 1967, the Park Service broke away from Channel Islands and established it as a separate area. It had been an arduous four years and Tucker could feel a deep sense of satisfaction as each project reached its conclusion.

The developments at Cabrillo began fittingly in 1963—the fiftieth anniversary of the monument. Many changes in thinking have taken place in those fifty years. It has, unfortunately, taken that long to give Cabrillo the honor due him and get his story before the American public.

The completion of the developments at the monument moved the park into a more important position in the National Park System, for it now had the accouterments of a park—a museum and visitor center, a refurnished historic lighthouse, and a more sophisticated interpretive program. Gone were the days of the makeshift amphitheatre where the park interpreters gave lectures on the gray whale and whaling in San Diego. No longer was it necessary to give talks on Cabrillo and on the old lighthouse in the parlor of that structure. But even with these good things, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was still hardly more than a figure of state importance. He had not yet taken his place in the public mind with Coronado and DeSoto.

The first fifty years were spent trying to secure an appropriately developed park to memorialize Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, and that was accomplished in 1965. The next fifteen years were devoted to giving Cabrillo the national recognition he deserved and bringing the park into focus. Both finally came about because of two things: the imaginative, energetic, and competent leadership of Supt. Tom Tucker, and the establishment and growth of the Cabrillo Festival.

F. Ross Holland, Jr.
Published by Cabrillo Historical Association
Copyright© 1981

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