A large crowd turns out in Ignacio to remember Native elder Larry S. Tucker
Larry Tucker was born in Harlem, Montana, and was a member of the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre tribes. For more than 40 years, he lived in Ignacio, where he met his wife, Cecilia.
When Cecilia passed away three years ago, her son Greg Gallegos moved to Ignacio to take care of Larry.
“Everybody that he came in contact with, he kind of made an impact with because he's so jovial, and he makes jokes with everything,” said Gallegos.
Tucker served in the United States Air Force from 1956 to 1959. When he moved to Ignacio, he joined the Southern Ute Veteran’s Association. He was active with the color guard at parades and military funerals.
Greg Gallegos had a lot of contact with his stepdad over the past three years and got to know him well.
“He was just very friendly. That's what people are going to remember most about him. His motto was not to let small things bother him,” said Gallegos.
Rod Grove is a Southern Ute tribal member and a veteran of the Vietnam War. He worked with Tucker on a daily basis in the veteran’s association, and they became friends over the four decades they knew each other.
“I'm glad our paths crossed,” said Grove. “He encouraged me to do more. He was easy to talk to, and he wasn’t judgemental, except when he got mad at me (laughs).”
Grove remembered a time when Tucker got frustrated during one of their meetings.
“One day, I kind of got him really upset at me,” recalled Grove. “He jumped up, pulled the dresser drawer open, and this is this funny. He pulls out a glass of water, which was holy water, and starts sprinkling me (laughs). I’m thinking, ‘What?’ ‘What’s he doing?’ He was all apologetic. But it's kind of funny (laughs).”
Larry Tucker’s Catholic faith was an integral part of his life. As a church deacon, he performed baptisms, marriages, and funerals for the Ignacio community.
Father Cesar Aras was the pastor at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Ignacio from 2019 to 2023. Cesar visited Ignacio to celebrate Tucker’s life and lead the funeral mass.
“Larry was always a figure of love in the community. Larry can be described as a grandfather figure for the community. It didn't matter what background you were from. He was there to help anyone who asked for his help,” said Aras.
Tucker balanced his Catholic faith with his spirituality as a Native American man and a Sundancer.
“Larry was able to bring together both spiritualities,” said Aras. “Talking to Larry, I always saw this unity in his Catholic faith and his traditional faith. I believe Larry was a person who was able to focus, first of all, on the things that were common to both spiritualities and beliefs.”
Larry Tucker will be remembered as a Sundancer and devout Catholic man, a Veteran, and a supportive community member.