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Obituaries & Retirements

RGS High Wycombe Masters Pages

Obituary E R Tucker

THE WYCOMBIENSIAN [Vol. XIII, No. 10, September 1964] (sent in by John Saunders)


It is with the deepest sorrow that we have to record the sudden death on July 24th, 1964, of our greatly loved Headmaster after only a very short illness.
The funeral took place on July 30th at the Parish Church, High Wycombe, conducted by the Vicar, the Rev. Eric Hague, and the School Chaplain, the Rev. John Skipp. A tribute to the life and work of Mr. Tucker was given by Mr. C. Howard Ensor, the Principal of Newland Park Training College.
A Memorial Service will be held at the School on Friday, September 18th, at 2.30 p.m.
The Chairman of the Governors, Alderman R. P. Clarke, has written the following appreciation.


A little more than two years ago Mrs. Tucker’s very many friends and admirers were shocked and saddened by her sudden and untimely death, but they will all remember with admiration the Christian fortitude with which Mr. Tucker, the Headmaster, bore his overwhelming loss. His courage like much else in his life was an example to all who knew him. It was abundantly clear that in his religious faith he found a limitless source of strength and comfort. This faith enabled him on all occasions to maintain a cheerfulness which was of inestimable help to his family and friends.

And now a few days after the second anniversary of Mrs. Tucker’s death her devoted husband has died. Ronald Tucker, “Tuck” to many of his friends, in no priggish sense was a good man. Great strength of character, invincible determination, patience, good humour and great personal charm added to his scholarship, his ability as a teacher and administrator were the chief qualities which enabled him to become one of the great post-war headmasters, and it was as Headmaster that most of those who read these lines knew him.

Chosen without difficulty—for he was an outstanding candidate—from very many applicants for the headmastership of the Royal Grammar School in the Spring of 1933, Ronald Tucker very soon showed how right and how fortunate the appointing Committee had been in their selection. At the comparatively youthful age of 31 for a headmaster he soon proved a very worthy successor to Mr. G. W. Arnison.

At that time it was a comparatively small endowed Grammar School of which he became the head and though the next few years up to the last war saw some expansion, particularly in the sixth form, it has been during the post-war years that the school has grown so rapidly in numbers and academic distinction until it is now one of the great Grammar Schools of this country.

Ronald Tucker would have been the last person to take all or even most of the credit for this achievement, for amongst his many admirable qualities were real modesty and humility. But his inspiration, his personality, his zeal, his ability, his strength of purpose and his strength of character were the main forces which brought the Royal Grammar School to its present high position. He would have given a large measure of the credit for this achievement to the members of his staff, but his was the judgment which enabled him to chose that very able staff and throughout the 31 years of his head-ship every member of that staff would testify to their admiration and affection for the Headmaster, as would that multitude of pupils who have had the good fortune to pass through his hands and his many other admirers far and wide.

Though he had many activities outside the school he was always accessible to masters, boys and parents, and his many friends will always remember with gratitude that it was to Tuck they would turn if they required any help and that his generosity and seemingly boundless energy enabled him to give it so willingly.

In this brief tribute it is not possible to mention all the Headmaster’s activities. These are very well set forth in the History of the Royal Grammar School 1562 to 1962 such as his becoming a member of the Headmasters’ Conference in 1943, the time and energy spent in “making the School known to the Universities, to the Services and to commercial and industrial employers all over the country” and in “finding places for his boys at colleges and universities”. But no tribute, however brief, should fail to mention his many public activities outside the sphere of, though in some cases connected with his headmastership. His restless energy and vitality enabled him to perform the onerous duties of a Magistrate, to serve on the Buckinghamshire Education Committee and many other Committees connected with education, and on a number of occasions at the invitation of the Foreign Office to visit West Germany and assist with teachers’ courses in that country. On these visits he gave invaluable service and made many friends, as he did wherever he went. Indeed his capacity for friendship was unbounded and those—and they were many—who enjoyed his friendship, will remember it with pride and gratitude for the rest of their lives.

Having early in his career as Headmaster joined the Church of England, he later became a licensed lay-reader, and during the latter years of his life it seemed that rarely did a Sunday pass on which he was not preaching somewhere. His eloquent, forthright and stimulating sermons were an inspiration to many. His only critic was his wife who, though no one was more proud of him than she, sometimes told him he was too long! So much in demand was he as a preacher that some of his friends urged him to take Holy Orders when he retired. His sermons, though eloquent, had a quality of “man to man” which commanded the attention and thought of his congregation.

In 1960 one of his dearest ambitions was achieved by the conversion of a large laboratory into a beautiful and dignified Chapel. The school was indeed fortunate in the Headmaster’s conception and the skill with which the conversion was carried out. The consecration of this Chapel in November 1960 was probably one of the happiest events in his career as Headmaster. Probably the happiest of all was the visit of the Queen in 1962, and for those who were present it is a joy to remember with what pleasure and aplomb his wife Bertie Tucker took the part of the Queen at the rehearsal for that memorable occasion.

Whatever demands his outside activities made upon his time and energy, it was the School that occupied most of the Headmaster’s thoughts. It may be truly said that his life was the School and the School his life. He lived to see all his ambitions for the enlargement and improvement of the School realised save one, the construction of the swimming pool. But that this was not achieved was through no fault of his.

No tribute to the Headmaster would be complete without mention of the abundant and delightful hospitality enjoyed by so many at the Headmaster’s house. The Headmaster was firmly resolved that 31 years in that capacity was sufficient and that a younger man should take his place. The Governors, however, persuaded him to agree to remain another year, but that he has not been allowed to do.

Ronald Tucker has left us at the very zenith of his career after a life of great usefulness and influence which will be long remembered with admiration and gratitude.

Chairman of the Governors.

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