An obit for a friend

Editor's Note: Longtime BASS Senior Writer Tim Tucker was killed Monday, July 16, in an automobile accident near Gainesville, Fla. His contributions to our sport were immeasurable, and he will be deeply missed by everyone who loves bass fishing.

How do you write an obituary for a friend? Do you return to your old newspaper ways and stack an inverted pyramid, knowing full well that words and sentences will inevitably fall short of the mark?

How does one describe a lifetime of contributions?

Should you dwell on the achievements and downplay the eccentricities, overlook the occasional faults and foibles, things that only another friend would know?

And where do you place all of the anecdotes that ultimately define who that person was and what he represented?

And so I struggle to write these words about Tim Tucker.

In the coming days, there will be many stories told about this jovial, opinionated, passionate mountain of a man who died in an automobile accident on Monday, July 16, near Gainesville, Fla.

Hundreds will empty their own pockets jammed full of memories and "Tucker Tales," sharing personal stories about how he made things better. All will shine good light on a man whose driving force seemed to be helping others, whether they were fellow writers, anglers or anyone else who was involved in the sportfishing industry.

Because of his own success, because he and he alone had apparently cracked the code, Tim seemed to want to pull the rest of us along with him, kicking and screaming — and oftentimes laughing.

And today we cry.

We mourn for someone who made us better, who allowed us to question the status quo, who showed us a new way to look at the sport of fishing, and who proved that loyalty and honor are not simply matters of convenience. True friendship doesn't work that way.

Again, how do you write an obituary for a friend? Do you sterilize it and sanitize it and rush it through to deliver an exact word count on a deadline?

If Tim was sitting here now, I'm absolutely certain he would provide the definitive answers to each and every question. And if I started to disagree, I'm sure he would squint his eyes, puff himself up and read you chapter and verse on the fine art of how to write an appropriate obit. That was Tim.

In the days that have passed since Tim's tragic death, I've found myself sifting through stacks of personal correspondence, looking for solace in words where there is none. I've rummaged through boxes of old 35mm slides from the dozens of fishing trips we took together. Always, there's that self-confident smirk and smile that became his trademark, and those often repeated proclamations replete with expletives that we'll hear no more.

Back in 1990, Tim asked me to write the foreword to a book he'd written called Secrets of America's Best Bass Pros. It was an honor and a privilege simply to be asked.

The words of introduction failed me then, as now, as I searched desperately for an appropriate passage, a paragraph that would best describe Tim's life-long quest. And I found it in a quote from another well-known writer named Ernest Hemingway.

"A writer's problem does not change. He himself changes and the world he lives in changes but his problem remains the same. It is always how to write truly and having found what is true, to protect it in such a way that it becomes a part of the experience of the person who reads it."

The world has changed again, old friend. And you definitely wrote truly.

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