A Man of the People
Retired City Commissioner Sam Tucker Left a Community-Focused Legacy In Middletown
Writer / Beth Beckwith
Sam Tucker, retired City Commissioner, is well known throughout Middletown for his efforts to improve the community. His work in office resulted in preserving historic foundations for the city’s benefit. Even before that, his ventures as a volunteer firefighter for 10 years and officially as a police officer for 27 years helped him to best serve his hometown.
Born and raised in Middletown, Tucker grew up with a passion to give back to his community. As an adolescent, he worked as a news carrier for Courier-Journal. He then moved on to working for several local stores including a gas station, feed store and dairy farm. As a young boy, he and a few friends started a car wash outside of the remnants of Middletown’s first gas station. The fun stopped when they were told that location wasn’t zoned properly for that work. Tucker cherished his memories at that location but later learned that the property was being bought out.
As an adult, Tucker often fondly reflected back on his time spent with friends at that gas station. In the late 90s to the early 2000s, he joined Middletown’s historic commission with the intention of restoring the facility.
“We pressed on it for some time but it just didn’t take,” Tucker says.
However, he did not give up there.
The property originally belonged to doctors that ran business in Middletown. Tucker and his associates asked the property owners to give the rights to that land over to the city. They agreed but did not have enough money to assist with renovating it. He worked with the city to get funds through a federal grant to make improvements to the little building. Tucker and the Mayor, J. Byron Chapman, tirelessly worked side by side to get the job done. After years of working on this project, they finally reaped the benefits of their hard work. Tucker succeeded in getting funds to restore the historic location and the city received a $30,000 grant.
“It’s really a memorial to Middletown,” Tucker says. “That was the first gas station we ever had in town and it’s part of our community’s history. We couldn’t let it get torn down.”
The gas station is now a historic monument that many travelers come to see when passing through town. A historic sign was placed on the property to honor Tucker’s commitment and dedication to the site. While Tucker’s name will go down in Middletown’s history for his work with historic renovations, he was also known around town for his other humanitarian efforts to aid the community.
As soon as Tucker was of age, he volunteered as a firefighter. Next, he joined the local police force where he worked day and night to keep the city safe. During his time as a police officer, his chief saw his potential and prompted him to move forward with his efforts. Tucker decided to further his education to better serve the public. As a result, he began taking night classes to finish his degree in business. He later moved on to law school where he succeeded in graduating with a law degree.
On the police force, Tucker held several ranks. He was first a Patrolman then moved on to Sergeant. With time, he moved up to be a Lieutenant, Captain and eventually became the Commander of Tactical Operations. After graduating with his Bachelors of Science in Commerce and moving on to his Doctor of Law degree in 1972, Tucker came back to the police force to take on a new role as the department’s legal advisor for several years. His role as City Commissioner came about in 1992 when he was elected to serve two terms.
After Tucker left office, he still felt a strong drive to give back to his community. An idea had been pitched around town to have someone write a historical book dedicated to Middletown. There was one already in place but was outdated and Tucker and his wife, along with several other community members, wanted to bring a more updated version to the town. Eventually, they decided to write their own. Tucker and his wife went on many research excursions to determine what should be written about. Ultimately, the book became a pictorial guide for Middletown.
“As City Commissioner, I did various works to aid the community and was taking pictures as I went,” Tucker says. “I wrote some things down on each outing too so I ended up with all these ventures and information about them.”
Tucker worked on the book for a couple of years before it was printed and published.
“We spoke with several older residents of Middletown and even some people from the fire department to get pictures for the book,” he says. “Some of the photos we were able to use came from the Middletown Museum itself.”
Overall the book became a success and Tucker gave the rights to it to the city of Middletown.
“He was up all hours of the night working on that book,” Mrs. Tucker says. “I’d wake up in the middle of the night and he’d still be at his desk, typing away. We made a point to proofread and make sure every detail was accurate.”
Tucker acknowledged that it was his teamwork and partnership with his wife on the project that brought the guide to fruition. The book can be ordered from Middletown’s Chamber of Commerce. It serves as a guide to historic and memorable sites throughout Middletown and details the history and positive impact of each location. With each turn of the page, a new adventure can be found for readers to follow through in the footsteps of Mr. and Mrs. Tucker.
“I’ve always been gratuitous, as best as I could be, in my efforts,” Tucker says. “More than anything, I hope the Mayor stays on as long as possible in office. Middletown is like our family and he is a good man who works hard for his community.”
The current Mayor of Middletown, Chapman, has remained close with Tucker over the years. When asked, he smiled and reflected fondly on their time working together in office.
“Bottom line, Tucker’s concern for the city’s residents and preservation of the city is above everyone I’ve ever worked with,” Mayor Chapman says. “He just had no agenda other than what’s good for the city. I enjoyed working with him and learned a lot from him given his knowledge and experience with the city.”
Tucker has dedicated his life to his hometown and its inhabitants. He still keeps up with his friends from the police force and he and his wife are close friends with the Mayor and his wife. Tucker’s story is an inspiration to others who wish to help those around them. The book he wrote and collaborated on with his wife is, according to the mayor is “one that will go down in history as a priceless piece of literature and help preserve the progress of Middletown for ages to come.”