The Vice-President of Bowls New Zealand, Jan Tucker, passed away last Sunday night.
She was many things to many people,
Jan was a member of the Chalmers/West Harbour Community Board of the Dunedin City Council for more than 20 years.
But it was as a champion of so many issues in the Otago community where she really earned her stripes … lobbying for the sealing of a well-used major road between Port Chalmers and State Highway One at Waitati … championing the renovation of the Town Hall … supporting the retention of the local swimming pool … promoting the development of the shared path cycle/walkway from Ravensbourne to St Leonards … and more. She was like a time-travelling protestor from the 60’s, waking up Otagans to the possibility of a better society.
She had been involved with ‘Keep Dunedin Beautiful’ for over 20 years, the Chair since 2006, and last year was made a Life Member of the national body ‘Keep New Zealand Beautiful’.
She was a volunteer cruise ship guide, a meals-on-wheels driver, a former member of the Lions Club, and a founding member of the Port Chalmers Information Service. If anything needed to be done in the community, Jan wasn’t afraid to put her hand up.
Jan was just as involved with the game of bowls, and driven by her 60’s esprit, keen to contribute to the possibility of a better sport of bowls.
She was made Vice-President of Bowls New Zealand in 2019, and would’ve have traditionally assumed the role of President in a few months at the national AGM. She’d been Dunedin Centre President three times, and had been made a Life Member of the centre.
She’d been a bowler since pre-amalgamation days when she had a full-time job as a school teacher. After finding that women were frozen out of the greens at the local clubs in the weekends, she became involved in a bowls organisation in Dunedin called ‘Business Women’ … group of 30-35 women who set up their own dedicated women’s greens at Logan Park.
“We had sent her some flowers late last week,” says Bowls New Zealand Chief Executive, Mark Cameron. “and in true Jan fashion, she’d sent back an email on Friday remarking : ‘Thanks for the flowers. I’m still here!’.”
“That summed up Jan to a tee. There were no frills with Jan … you got what was in front of you. She was still able to be straight-up right to the end.”
“It was the same at the Bowls New Zealand board meetings … when Jan spoke, you knew it was going to be well worth listening to … she wasn’t the sort of person that simply liked to hear the sound of her own voice.”
“Jan was a doer. And the QSM she was awarded five years ago in 2016, recognised how much she had done for the Otago community and for Otago bowls over the years.”
And although Jan lived in her latter years out at Port Chalmers, she continued to play out of the Balmacewan Bowling Club at Maori Hill.
“I came to really know Jan at the Summerset National Bowls Tournament at Taieri a few years ago,” says Bowls New Zealand’s Helen Stallard. “She was in the chart room with me. She was fantastic … hugely experienced … and just got on with doing the job. There was no fuss. The tournament ran like clockwork.”
Darryl Young, Manager of the Bowls Dunedin Centre has known Jan through bowls for the last 15 years,
“She contributed a huge amount to the game,” he says, “But I most remember her as someone who lived to see and experience the world. Before COVID, she was always off on a tour to the classical countries … to the sub-Antarctic islands … or fishing off the Brisbane coast. Her husband, Kevin, passed away over 20 years ago, but she always had her pet mini-poodle ‘Ollie Dog’ to come home to. Unfortunately, Ollie passed away last year as well.”
President of Bowls New Zealand, Mark O’Connor, paid tribute to his deputy.
“Jan was a wonderful person, and I know that she was looking forward to taking over from me as President. It’s a shame that a terrible disease cut those aspirations short … she had so much to give.”
Janet Grace Tucker QSM gave so much to so many, and the world is a poorer place without her in it.