A little piece of Victoria history can be found nestled away in her Uplands home just south of the Saanich border. Shirley Tucker celebrates her 100th birthday Tuesday, and although a century of travels may have taken her away from the Island, Victoria always maintained a special place in her heart.
“I never thought about getting old, I just look forward to every day,” said Tucker. “I just think I’m the luckiest person in the world to have a home here, and have my friends here. It’s just made my retirement so pleasant.”
Tucker was born in Yorkton, Sask., arriving Victoria just in time for her second birthday. However, the family’s roots had already long been established in the area. Her great-grandfather, John Parker, came from England on the Norman Morrison, arriving in Esquimalt in 1853. Her grandmother Mary Ann Parker was born here, as were her father Walter Walker and brother Bill Walker.
Tucker left Victoria to begin her teaching career in Summerland in 1939. That career eventually took her to the U.S. where she taught at Oregon State and UCLA, marrying her husband Les in 1954. She went on to teach for 22 years at Ventura College. Following her retirement in 1981, Tucker settled back in Victoria, eventually returning to her home on Weald Road that her family has lived in since 1932.
“I really enjoyed my retirement here as much as anytime in my life,” said Tucker, who is a regular fixture at the Oak Bay Lawn Bowling Club and Goward House, where she plays bridge on most Wednesday afternoons.
She still calls the house on Weald Road home.
“I live here on my own. I’m better off here,” said Tucker, adding family will often come to stay for a visit and her postman, gardner and taxi driver will regularly check to see how she’s doing.
“Everybody looks after me so well.”
Tucker said there’s no secret or special diet she can attribute her long life to. ”If you’re being honest, you have to say you’ve got good genes,” said Tucker who is celebrating her centennial with a party Monday at UVic’s University Club.
“I’m also going to tell these people that it’s because of them that I’m doing so well,” she said. “They keep me happy and keep me comfortable. They give me support whenever I need it. They’ve all made my life so pleasant.”
And even after 100 years, Tucker says she wouldn’t change a thing.
“I just thank my lucky stars.”