Commissioners remember Ray Tucker who has passed away at 71

Published 1:55 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2023

A man who cared deeply about serving his community, as well as his constituents, is how former Mower County Commissioner and small business owner Ray Tucker is being remembered.

Tucker, who served as the District 2 commissioner for 16 years from 1997 to 2013, passed away quietly on Saturday. He was 71.

Read more: Raymond J. Tucker, 71

Jerry Reinartz is one of two, along with Mike Ankeny, who served with Tucker during that time period. He remembered Tucker as a man who not only served District 2 faithfully, but always made sure people knew where he stood.

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“He was known around the county and was very active in agricultural affairs,” Reinartz said. “When he had something to say you listened. He wasn’t one to not tell you what he thought about an issue.”

Tucker was challenged and defeated in 2012 by current District 2 commissioner Polly Glynn. He ran against her again in both 2016 and 2020.

Glynn said she always respected Tucker and what he stood for.

“He was always a worthy opponent for me. The last time, he called me and said that’s it. I’m not running anymore,” she said, laughing at the memory. “I certainly didn’t run against him because I didn’t think he wasn’t doing a good job. He always did a good job and was well liked.”

Tucker played a role in building the Mower County Jail at its downtown location, voting for to build at its downtown  location with two other commissioners, a controversial decision that at the time Tucker and others thought may have been a reason he was defeated.

Yet, Tucker defended the decision.

“It was a tough decision, first whether to build it or where to build it,” Tucker said in 2012. “But as I look at it today, the finished product turned out excellent for Mower County. It will service the people of Mower County well for many years.”

More than the jail, Tucker was known for his work in bringing wind power to Mower County. Tucker spent 12 of his 16 years advocating for bringing wind power to Mower, which also helped establish the wind energy production tax.

Commissioner Dan Sparks was a state senator at the time and he remembers how hard Tucker worked to not only secure wind turbines coming to Mower, but ensuring money gained from the towers would be used in the right way.

“He was very conscious and did a really good job ensuring that the wind energy production tax would stay in the local county and the townships,” Sparks said. “He was very adamant about that.”

Glynn referred to that money, which was set aside for economic development, as the “Holy Grail.” It was something he was still concerned about when he ran against Glynn in later attempts. That money has been set aside and is still yet to be used.

Aside from his stand on wind power and the jail, Tucker was also a successful businessman, owning and operating Tucker Tiling for 35 years. He also worked with farmers in their district and made sure everybody’s concern was heard.

“I think for the people he represented, he really understood agriculture and the farmers,” Sparks said. “I think he was a very strong voice for them, not only on the county board, but around the entire state.”

A visitation for Tucker will be held from 4-7 p.m. Friday at Worlein Funeral Home in Austin and will continue for one hour prior to the service at the church on Saturday. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, at St. Finbarr Catholic Church in Grand Meadow.