Cambridge. He was ordained as an Episcopal priest on Palm Sunday, 1947. From 1947 to 1949, the Rev. Tucker served as a missionary in Kiangsu, China. He spent most of the rest of his professional career in eastern Massachusetts, serving as the rector of Episcopal parishes in New Bedford, Burlington, and West Newbury and as a chaplain at hospitals and prisons. Ralph Tucker is remembered to have been “especially dedicated to serving the troubled, the sick and the institutionalized” and to have been a strong supporter of civil rights. In 1965, he traveled to Montgomery, Alabama, to participate in a march led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and in subsequent years, he was active in protests against racial discrimination in the Boston area. Laurel Gabel met Ralph in the 1960s while researching her family’s history. She was then living in California, and wrote to Ralph regarding her ancestors, the Wymans. After she and her family had moved back to New England, she attended a family reunion, and there met Ralph, who had come to talk about the Lamsons. At Ralph’s suggestion, Laurel attended the 1980 AGS Conference at Bradford College. She soon found her calling in gravestone studies. Many will remember Ralph as a driving force during the formative years of AGS; as a generous mentor, always happy to share his knowledge; and as a loyal friend. I met Ralph Tucker at the first Dublin Seminar in 1976 and remember him as someone who knew how to get things done. Ralph was one of the five Dublin conferees invited to meet and discuss the formation of what would become the Association for Gravestone Studies. In July 1977, he became the first president of AGS. Following his term as President, Ralph continued to serve on the AGS Board of Trustees. He helped plan and organize our 1980 Conference at Bradford College in Haverhill, Massachusetts, and our 1989 Conference at Gov. Dummer Academy in Byefield, Massachusetts. During this time, Ralph continued to pursue his research on the Lamsons and the Merrimac Valley carvers. In recognition of his many years of intensive research and dedicated service, we honored him with the Harriette Merrifield Forbes Award in 1992. After retirement, Ralph and his wife, Mildred, moved to Georgetown, Maine, a small coastal town south of Bath. There, he continued his research and writing, and in 1996, helped organize our 1996 Conference, held at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham. In 2005 Ralph Tucker donated his substantial collection of early New England gravestone photographs and research notes to the AGS Archives. His collection includes several hundred color slides and several thousand black and white prints and negatives, individually labeled. When I spoke with Ralph in early 2006, he told me: “I have attempted to photograph all the stones regardless of condition, not just the ‘pretty’ ones.” His research notes are compiled in a folder of Microsoft Word and Excel files. Within those files, Ralph has left us a number of loose ends to pick up and follow.
Annual Journal of the Association for Gravestone Studies