James Tucker, a member of Virginia Tech’s economics faculty from 1970 to 1974 and the university’s Board of Visitors from 1974 to 1982, died July 6, 2016. He was 91.
Tucker’s experience being born into poverty and the hardship he witnessed during the Great Depression led him to be passionate about economics and personal finance, and he became an expert in those subjects.
Tucker’s career in academia and government included serving as president of what is now Virginia State University and as an officer of the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank. He was the first African-American to serve as an officer of the bank, where he was vice president of research and later a senior vice president and director of the bank’s Community Reinvestment and Economic Information Division.
After serving with distinction in World War II, for which he was awarded several Bronze Star medals, Tucker completed a bachelor’s in business administration and master’s in economics from Howard University. He later earned a Ph.D. in economic history from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
At Virginia Tech, Tucker taught economics and directed the university’s Center for Economic Education. Tucker also taught at West Virginia State University, North Carolina Central University, and what is now the University of Mary Washington. He authored seven books and many publications related to personal finance.
Although Tucker’s career brought him to several universities, Virginia Tech was special to him, said his daughter, Lauren Tucker, of Chicago, who described her father as an avid fan of Hokie football.
“He loved the university,” she said. “And when he wrote a textbook for Economics 101, he got to choose colors for the cover. It was maroon and orange.”
Tucker is also survived by his wife of 54 years, Caroline Tucker, and their son, Kenneth Tucker, of Blacksburg, as well as a nephew, grandson, grand-niece, and grand-nephew.
Tucker is due to be interned at Arlington National Cemetery will full military honors. In lieu of flowers, his family said memorial contributions may be made to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond, the Virginia Tech Foundation, or Howard University.