At our Founder’s Day celebration last Friday, Dr. Proctor asked the question, “Who is the second tallest headmaster in North Cross history?” The question may have been a piece of trivia to our students, but the answer, John Tucker (left in photo with Dr. Proctor), was not trivial at all.
Emerson Johnson resigned in 1969 to become Headmaster of Charlotte Country Day. Board Chair Tom Slack phoned John Tucker, then at Norfolk Academy, and asked him to meet with him and Kate about the Headmaster position at North Cross. When John met with the search committee, he had a list of questions, the first and most important was whether North Cross would have a non-discriminatory policy, to which the Board agreed. He accepted the job in 1970 as the second Headmaster of North Cross; and coincidentally, at 6' 8" he is the second tallest Headmaster to Mr. Johnson, of the nine we have had.
Yet the most important achievement of Mr. Tucker’s administration wasn’t the buildings or the land, it was assembling an excellent faculty that did not see its job limited to the classroom. Names like Calvert, Cook, DeHart, Grayson,Maycock, Martin, Meagher, Muscaro, Sallade, Satterwhite, and so many more, came to the school during his tenure and impacted our students well after his departure.
He and Barbara were actively involved in the Roanoke social scene, and on more than one occasion was heard to remark, “My days at North Cross were like living in Camelot.” By the time his former employer, Norfolk Academy, lured him back in 1978, he had left an incredible legacy. North Cross had grown from 324 to 524 students, and many programs were added, including The Living Gallery (now Logan Art Gallery) in Slack Hall which in 1977 featured a Thomas Eakins Art Exhibit with paintings and artifacts from family members who lived in the city. It was a two-week exhibit, with around-the-clock guards for security, that brought five thousand people to the campus.
John went on to spend 22 years at Norfolk Academy, and he and Barbara currently reside in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina where he serves as a consultant to the newly established PreK-8, Saint Patrick Catholic School in Norfolk. He is also currently chair of the Don and Catharine Bryan Cultural Series on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.