Obituary: George Edward Tuck

Monday, January 8, 2024 - 1:15pm

February 25, 1942 – December 14, 2023

Retired University of Nebraska professor George Tuck died December 14, 2023 as a result of Alzheimer’s at Country House Residence for memory care in Lincoln Nebraska. He was 81.

The second child of Henry Alfred Tuck and Vera Anna Reeves Tuck, he was born in Amarillo, Texas, Feb. 25, 1942, but lived in Dumas until he went to college in 1960.

His father, a consignee for Mobil Oil Co., hired a junior high-aged Tuck to clean his warehouse, which was a sieve that kept the oil drums and cases of oil from walking off, but let everything else in, including frequent sandstorms and hundreds of sparrows with diarrhea.

When he was 16 he began driving a gasoline truck for his father to make deliveries to farms, ranches, gas stations and many industrial plants. He continued this job on weekends and most summers, ending with his senior year in college. From his father he inherited the traits of talking to anyone from water well drillers to company presidents and being non-judgmental of people and their idiosyncrasies.

Tuck's mother who had taught music appreciation at her first school and was a church accompanist, helped instill in him a love of music. He began playing the drums in junior high school and played until a year past his college graduation, ending his musical career as a percussionist with the Abilene, Texas, Philharmonic. During college he played with the World Famous Cowboy Band at Hardin-Simmons University and the Philharmonic, plus numerous gigs in dance bands.

While not an academic star in college (he managed to eke out a gentleman's C average), he was quite active with his music, photography and journalism pursuits, serving as an officer in the World Famous Cowboy Band and Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity. In addition, he was the business manager of student publications and editor of the Bronco yearbook.

Although he had delusions of becoming a clinical psychologist, he decided early on that the crazies in journalism were much more interesting.

His journalism career included stints as a staff photographer at the Abilene, Texas, Reporter-News, advertising copywriter at the Paymaster Division of Anderson, Clayton & Co., and news editor of the Morton, Texas, Tribune and the Littlefield, Texas, Leader. During a 15-month sabbatical from UNL, George also worked stints as a graphics researcher at NEWSDAY on Long Island, N.Y., as a picture editor for the Associated Press in New York City and at the Houston Chronicle.

In 1968 he and his wife left West Texas so he could attend graduate school at the University of Missouri's School of Journalism, from which he graduated with a M.A. in journalism and an emphasis in photojournalism. 

Even though he didn't apply to teach at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Tuck nonetheless found himself being interviewed and hired in 1970 by Neale Copple, then the director of the School of Journalism and later the dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. One faculty member who interviewed Tuck pronounced him "educable." Thus began a 33-year career teaching photojournalism and graphics courses. His final course was "Cyberspace and the Mass Media," for in-class seniors and grad students as well as on-line graduate students in California, Florida, New Jersey, Texas, among others.

He was awarded the first and second sabbaticals ever offered by the journalism college, both of which produced solo photo exhibitions at UNL's Sheldon Museum of Art. His third sabbatical produced an 89-print black and white exhibition entitled "Flat Places and Interesting People" that premiered at UNL's Center for Great Plains Studies and ended after a year-long showing at St. Petersburg, Russia, in the U.S. Consul General's residence, which is used for diplomatic affairs.

Throughout the years his black and white and highly altered color photos have been exhibited nationally and in Brazil, France, Germany, Mexico, and in Nebraska in the Stuhr Museum, Museum of Nebraska Art, Kiechel Fine Arts, Haydon Art Gallery, Modem Arts Midwest and others.

In addition to photography, his other interests were listening to jazz, classical, opera and other genres, reading everything from military history and foreign affairs to fiction, biographies and cyber warfare. He was an early computer adopter (his first was an IBM with a (then) whopping 256K RAM. At that time most were running 64 or 128K RAM so he had the fastest on his block. Later he saw the light and became an Apple advocate. He also created the first prototype web site for the College of Journalism, after learning HTML coding one weekend.

He was the co-author with Daryl Frazell of "Principles of Editing," published by McGraw-Hill.

He was especially proud of his journalism and photojournalism students and even those students who, sigh, went into other fields. 

George Tuck leaves behind his brother Henry Alfred (H.A.) Tuck Jr. of Midland, TX; brother-in-law and spouse Glen Larence (Patricia) Cagle of Pensacola, FL. and Sister-in-law Melinda Cagle of The Woodlands, TX; many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by Mary Lynn (Cagle) Tuck, his phenomenal wife of 53 years; his parents Henry Alfred and Vera Anna (Reeves) Tuck; his father-in-law and mother-in-law Larence Lindall and Helen Juanita (Brinker) Cagle; aunts and uncles Elba (Reeves) and Burgess Brown; Reva Inez (Reeves) and Mickey McPherson; nephew Tommy Lee Tuck of Midland, Texas; brother-in-law Dr. Carrol Dean Cagle of The Woodlands, Texas; Sister-in-law Karen Sue (Cagle) McBeth of Lincoln.

Ever a teacher, he donated his body and all usable organs to the Nebraska Anatomical Board. At George's request there will be no service. Since he suggested folks raise a glass to their own friends, family, fine food, good music, outstanding art and great journalism and photojournalism, a Celebration of Life will be held in the afternoon of Saturday, April 13, 2024 in the UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications, Andersen Hall. 16th & Q Streets, Lincoln NE. Details will be released in the alumni newsletter.

Memorials should be sent to either:

  • University of Nebraska Foundation, 1010 Lincoln Mall, Suite 300, Lincoln, NE. 68508 and designated to go to either the George Tuck Photojournalism Scholarship fund, Sheldon Museum of Art or University of Nebraska State Museum.
  • Hardin-Simmons University, Box 2200 Hickory Street, HSU Box 16100 Abilene, Texas,79698 and designated to the Cowboy Band Foundation

Condolences may be sent to The Family of George Tuck, 4027 Holdrege Street, Lincoln, NE 68503.

George Edward Tuck