James Tucek, 84, of Mitchell, formerly of Tripp, SD, died Saturday, April 24, 2021, at Good Samaritan Society in Howard. Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:30 AM Thursday, April 29, 2021 at Holy Family Catholic Church in Mitchell. Burial will be at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Howard. Visitation will be from 5-7:00 PM Wednesday, April 28 at Bittner Funeral Chapel with a 6:30 PM Scripture Service. Arrangements by Bittner Funeral Chapel.
James E. Tucek was born on the farm near Tripp on July 5, 1936, the hottest day on record in South Dakota. Frank and Tillie (Plihal) welcomed their first child and only son during the coldest year of record in SD. It was no surprise that Jim lived his life like the extremes of 1936--hot and cold and larger than life. Jim grew up in a multi-generational home and attended grades 1-8 at Maag School #81. He had been helping out on the farm since he was a child, but in 1957, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He proudly served in the naval service and enjoyed his travels to Japan, Hawaii, Hong Kong, and Shemya Islands. Jim always spoke fondly of his navy years, pranks and all, and made lifelong friendships. After his discharge, Jim returned to work on the family farm. In 1959, he married LaLanie Lee, established a home southeast of Tripp, and raised three children. He was a member of the Moose Lodge, VFW, Catholic Workman, township board, and CB Club. He helped build the elevator in Beardsley, the Tripp Sales Barn, and worked on road construction, among other things. Jim met Marilyn Voelker at a singles’ dance and fell in love on the dance floor. They were married on October 11, 2003, and lived in Mitchell. There was never a dull moment. They enjoyed antiquing and just spending time together.
Jim had a wide variety of interests. There wasn’t an animal he wouldn’t try to tame or bring home. He tried taming everything from coyotes, raccoons, opossums, and donkeys. He often took them to town, the nursing home, and even the hospital for people to enjoy. He was a stock car racer in the 1970’s, wrote and performed in many skits, and participated in parades and other events. Jim’s Czech heritage was important to him; he played the button accordion, listened to polka music, and like any good Bohemian, loved to dance and socialize.
Jim was irresistibly attracted to bargains and a shrewd shopper for good deals and rebates. He was resourceful, not willing to throw away something that he might use someday. Jim was fascinated with restoring nonfunctioning mechanical objects to usefulness again, salvaging parts for his toy tractor collection, a lifelong interest (especially if it was green). Jim had the ability to fix, repair, or construct anything. Jim always said, “If man can build it, a man can fix it.”
Jim had a winsome personality, a great sense of humor, loved practical joking, and was gifted with conversation (if you knew him, you know what we mean). He had a prodigious memory and his mind was a never-ending bucket of anecdotes and jokes. Jim could be very generous, so willing to give of his time and resources, especially for someone in need. Jim derived more pleasure from buying something for someone else than for himself. He never worried about the future, feeling confident that something would come along. Jimmie never thought he would live this long!
Like the year 1936, Jim’s temperament could change from hot to cold. Though generally of a quiet nature, he was known to erupt when stirred. Jim’s inquiring intellectualism led him to be an avid reader and crossword puzzle buff, though he could sometimes seem like a know it all (but we loved him anyway). His memory was sharp as a tack to the end.
Jim is survived by his wife, Marilyn; three children, Vicki (Tom) Streifel, Tracy, MN; Randy (Karen) Tucek, Abilene, TX; and Terry (Jen) Tucek, Howard, SD; six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; stepchildren, Darla (Rick) Kofford, Howard, SD; Rodger (Pascale) Voelker, Eugene, OR; Jolene (Fred) Geffre, Aberdeen, SD; Tony Voelker, Minneapolis, MN; Janell Ridgway, Mitchell, SD; and Jesse (Laurie) Voelker, Lincoln, NE; many step-grandchildren and step-grandchildren; siblings, Sylvia Jezek, Kaylor, SD; Lillian (Paul) Schlechter, Scotland, SD; and Eileen (Steve) Hardesty, Reno, NV.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Tillie Tucek and stepson, Douglas Voelker.
“Dobry noc,” honey, I love you.