Tuckers Funerals Geelong celebrates 135 Years of Funeral Care
Our history dates back to the 1880’s. Over the years Tuckers Funeral and Bereavement Service has grown from a father and son operation into a company that now employs more than 40 local staff whom continue to uphold the family traditions of care and compassion from the nineteenth century.
A Brief Timeline
F.H. Tucker Builders, Undertakers & Timber Merchants opened for business in 1883 in Wycheproof, Victoria. At this time Frank Henry Tucker operated his family business from a two room cottage with one standing desk, a couple of oil lamps, a horse drawn hearse and each coffin was individually handmade on site.
Frank’s son Charles Henry Tucker (born 1894) was raised and worked in the family business. In 1916, Charlie served his country joining the (first) Australian Imperial Force (The Great War 19141918) at age 22. Returning to Australia in February of 1919, Charlie was awarded a military medal for his bravery in France.
In 1925, business operations focused on Funeral Care moved to Hope Street in Geelong West under the management of Charlie and his wife Ivy ‘Irene’ Tucker. At this time they built a stunning brick funeral chapel featuring traditional arch windows in Hope Street. Sadly in 1932 Frank Tucker passed away. Honouring family history and the traditions set by Frank and Charlie, today Tuckers Funeral Service still operates from the original site developed by the Tucker Family in Hope Street, Geelong West.
Charlie Tucker was a community focused man and from 1935 till 1948 whilst managing Tuckers he served as Geelong West City Councillor being mayor in 1945 and 1946. In November of 1936, Tuckers welcomed Les Cole to the team as a driver to support Charlie and the growing business. He didn’t know it at the time, but Les and his family would become an integral part of Tuckers future, expanding on the traditions passed down from each generation and developing Tuckers exceptional funeral care, internally known today as the ‘Tuckers Way’.
Following in the traditions set by Charlie Tucker, Les also served in his country’s defence working as an ambulance driver on the Mornington Peninsula. In 1942 Charlie suffered a heart attack and Les was returned home from war, as Funeral Care was an essential service for the community. Having to take on more responsibility, at the age of 28 Les was now fulltime (all hours of the day and night as needed) working in the funeral business. Led by the traditions set before him, Les’ community involvement included teaching Sunday School at Latrobe Terrace Church of Christ. Les believed being a good role model for youth was a very practical and effective way to express one’s faith.
Outside of caring for families and his service to the Geelong West Council, Charlie was also actively involved in local community groups. He served as a member of Geelong Rotary, President of the Geelong West Pipe Band and a member of St. Andrew’s South Masonic Lodge just to name a few. Charlie Tucker sadly passed away in 1954, at which time Les Cole stepped up to manage the company for Mrs Tucker.
A few years later, in 1965, the Cole family came to live next door to the business in Geelong West. This allowed Les to be more responsive for families at their time of need. The original home is still standing today and has been repurposed as the main office and continues to be the heart and soul of Tuckers.
After the war Les and Phyllis Cole, with their son Trevor, bought into the funeral business. The Cole family eventually assumed full ownership keeping the name and traditions of Tuckers as can be seen today.
Les Cole spent more than 60 years of his life supporting members of the community in their time of need whilst developing and improving Tuckers Funeral Service. Les’ exceptional community work was honoured by receiving a Paul Harris Fellowship from the Rotary Club of Geelong in 1982.
Les’ son Trevor also continued this tradition of community care as a past president of the same Rotary Club also being a Paul Harris Fellow. In time Les’ son Trevor, and his Grandsons along with their families, followed the tradition of caring for families in their time of need and in their own way continued to support the local community.
In 1971, 67 Hope Street was purchased from McKenzies Wreckers making way for Tuckers Geelong West Chapel, a major development for the Geelong area.
In 1972 Les and Trevor Cole employed their friend Ross Allen to commence work at Tuckers. Today, still working as a Funeral Director, Ross has conducted thousands of funerals for families across the region over an impressive 46 years. Community connection is also a tradition Ross has continued at Tuckers, involved in church leadership for more than 50 years and as a working member of rotary for more than 40 years.
In the late 70’s under the management of Trevor Cole, Tuckers employed specialised team members to provide care and support for families after a funeral service. Introducing Bereavement and Aftercare to the Geelong region turned out to be a much needed resource for the community as it still is today. For more than 45 years Tuckers have developed their unique Bereavement and Aftercare program into what assists many families through their grief journey today.
Under management of Les’ son Trevor Cole, Tuckers completed building works and opened the new Grovedale Funeral Chapel. This facility was seen as a much needed resource for the growing population on the southern side of town. Officially opened on the 4th December 1985 by the honourable Neil Tresize, this landmark is still very well known in Geelong and continues to service an ever growing area of Geelong today.
It was around this time Les and Trevor introduced reception staff to the business. This was a first for Tuckers, but the support from the additional team members allowed more time for management to focus on community and service delivery.
Sadly in 2001 Les Cole passed away.
At this time Trevor, and Les’ grandsons Brendan and Gavin (along with their families), continued caring for the community in their time of need following on the traditions set by Les, and those before him.
Embarking into a new century, it was highlighted how much funeral services had changed over the years. Back in the early 1900’s a funeral was a private and mournful event were everyone attending wore black. Funerals were changing to become more of public event that celebrated a life. It was around this time Tuckers extended their Bereavement Care to include a Christmas Service.
This initiative was created to provide families with much needed grief support around the Christmas and holiday season. As a public event the invitation was extended to all families across the region to come together and remember those loved one whom have passed. Having helped so many bereaved families over the years, this free public event is now a permanent fixture on Tuckers annual calendar.
In 2007 Tuckers expanded the business by purchasing the Geelong and Lara divisions of Tattersall Funeral Care and Hepner Funeral Service. Following this Mark and Kathy Osborne also became part owners in the company along with the Cole family. While the traditions would not change, the Osborne family came with strong Christian Faith, continuing the founders’ belief of supporting the local community. In 2009, Tuckers commenced the redevelopment of the facilities in Geelong West. This included restoring the original funeral chapel along with repurposing the family home into the main reception office.
Tuckers have always been very innovative in their approach providing funeral care services to the community. In 2011 Tuckers introduced the ability to share funerals live across the globe for families unable to attend in person. Funeral Webcasting was a first for the funeral industry in Geelong and was very well received by the community and today has become quite common.
Also in this year Tuckers won a Geelong Business Excellence award and received an Alcoa Access Award for the disability access provided during recent redevelopments.
In late 2012, Tuckers embarked on an exciting new journey as the company was purchased by the Australian group InvoCare. Joining the InvoCare team ensured Tuckers was well placed to continue providing exceptional service to local families as well as further opportunities for the team across the region. This opportunity has allowed Tuckers to continue traditions passed down from several generations of Funeral Directors.
Currently Tuckers are the largest regional funeral director in Victoria and employ more than 40 local staff members. Along with providing funeral and bereavement care to the Greater Geelong region, Tuckers also provide community education through the Gordon Tafe and the local health sector.
Continuing the strong tradition of support for the local community, through sponsorships, donations and active involvement Tuckers are involved with a diverse range of local clubs, are actively involved in arts and culture as well as providing much needed support for local health and wellbeing organisations. Building on the traditions of extended care for families, Tuckers Bereavement Care continues strongly to support local families beyond the funeral.
2019 and beyond
Over the next twelve months facilities based at Grovedale and Geelong West are planned to be upgraded. These renovations are designed to provide a modern light filled space enabling families to celebrate the life of a loved one in the way the community are telling us that they would like.
The tradition of community service and genuine care beyond the funeral has been the heart of Tuckers over the past 135 years. Today these traditions are continued as the team share the same innovative spirit of their founders whilst ensuring care and quality inspires every funeral service. Tuckers are continuing to grow their ability to provide exceptional funeral care for the Greater Geelong Region continuing into the future.