Father’s Day is bittersweet for Fox8 news anchor and Stokes County native Chad Tucker. He lost his father at seven-months-old when he was tragically killed in a car accident about half a mile north of Mountain View Road in King just two days before Christmas.
“My mother married my stepfather when I was three. My stepfather raised me as his own, doing all the things a father and son would do, from taking me on fishing trips to teaching me to throw a ball,” Tucker explained. “We lost him to brain cancer when I was in the eighth grade.”
Tucker said losing his father and then stepfather at an early age taught him a lot about living and how short life really is.
“In a way the reality that life is short motivated me to work harder. I started in broadcasting at the age of 12. I started writing for the former King-Times News in high school and immediately started getting my foot in the door of a Greenville TV station when I entered East Carolina because in the back of my head I knew time was running out,” he said.
His dream was to be a television journalist and write books. He’s found success in both. In January of 2010, Tucker received an Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts and Science for his story on the historic Nancy Reynolds School in Stokes County and has authored several regional history books on Stokes County and his hometown of King. He was recently named feature journalist of Roy’s Folks after Roy Ackland retired last summer.
But it’s his success as a husband and father that are most meaningful to him.
As a father of two to Carson Parry, who is four-years-old and younger sister Pearl Monroe, both family names, Tucker shares his day-to-day life on social media to thousands of followers. Pictures of his family, especially his daughters amusing antics, garner hundreds of likes and comments. A concurrent theme flowing through the colorful snapshots and videos is a father present alongside his children.
When Tucker’s father died at 20-years-old, there was little to leave his young son. Today, he treasures his father’s Bible, a belt and a pocket knife.
“I remember when I was in my 20’s people would say you look just like your dad. I have a few photographs of him, but none with me. In the mid-70s, photographs just were not something people thought about like they do today,” the journalist said. “I give every moment I can to my girls. I want to make memories with them every chance I get. I want to be there for everything they do. I want them to look out in the audience during a dance recital and see their dad’s proud face because I know how it feels when that face is missing. If, heaven forbid, something were to happen to me, I want my daughters to remember I was there.”
That lingering fear recently landed him in the doctor’s office where he was diagnosed with anxiety after suffering from months of panic attacks.
“My doctors believe my anxiety comes from my fear of passing away and leaving my children without a father. It’s not that I fear death, but I do fear the pain my children will have to endure from the loss because I know that pain is powerful.”
Tucker’s learned how to keep the bouts of anxiety at bay and said his focus is being the best example he can to his girls.
“I only get one chance at being a dad. My years of sharing people’s stories has taught me that children are a reflection of their environment. We as parents are our children’s role models, their first hero. They are learning how to live from watching us.”
Tucker credits his wife for helping him stay in the moment with their children.
“If something were to happen, I want them to remember me. I want them to have as many pieces to the puzzle as possible. I admit, sometimes I go overboard and my understanding wife gently reminds me to put down my camera and just enjoy the moment,” he said.
And the moments are sweet at this stage in life.
“Their giggles get me every time. I love the fact that, for right now, I’m their superhero and with just a little time and effort I can teach them a lot. The best part of my day happens twice. When I leave they run, with their arms out wide, to send me off with a hug and kiss. When I return, there they are again, their eyes big and smiles bigger, running toward me to welcome me home.”
On Sunday, Tucker plans to spend some time reflecting on the two fathers who have left a resounding impact on his life and who he is today. And he’s asked for just one gift from his daughters – the gift of time.
Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426.