Max D. Tucker was born in Flushing, Michigan on May 28, 1891. He attended a small community school in that town which had 12 grades and was known as Flushing High School. He attended school through the first 8 grades but was required to leave his education upon his father’s death. He then helped support his mother and two younger sisters. He worked at a series of jobs including grocery store clerk, dry goods clerk, telegraph operator, railroad freight clerk and relief agent.
In 1913 Mr. Tucker’s health failed and it was necessary that he spend a year in a tuberculosis sanitarium in Howell, Michigan.
In 1915 he was married to the former Rose Yarger. That same year Mr. Tucker began work with the Saxon Motor Company in Detroit, Michigan where he rapidly advanced to the position of traffic manager. During the period of employment with Saxon he became acquainted with E.S. Evans of Detroit, salesman for wooden automobile chock blocks, who was in need of someone with Mr. Tucker’s experience. In August of 1920 he became associated with Mr. Evans in a venture then known as E.S. Evans Company, Inc. This small business expanded until it became one of the largest suppliers of automobile loading and shipping appliances in the country with plants under Mr. Tucker’s management in eleven different locations in Michigan, Indiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.
In 1928 Evans Company, Inc., which later became known as the Evans Auto Loading Company with Mr. Tucker as vice president, expanded its operations to include the manufacture of storage battery separators. Large holdings of Port Orford Cedar timber along with manufacturing plants were acquired in Marshfield, Coos County, Oregon. Mr. Tucker was prominently connected with the acquisition of these Coos County properties. In 1932 Max Tucker moved West from Detroit to establish residence in Marshfield, where he lived for 10 years.
The Evans Products Company survived the depression years and the Marshfield operation expanded and prospered under the Tucker management. Late in the 1930’s Mr. Tucker anticipated the opportunities that soon would become available in the Douglas fir plywood industry and convinced the Evens Products Company that a plywood plant should be constructed at Lebanon, Oregon. This plant, known as the plywood division of Evans Products Company, was started in June of 1940. The first log was peeled in September of 1940.
In 1944 the Evans Products Company disposed of the plywood division and Mr. Tucker and a group of friends purchased the Lebanon plant and its timber holdings. On March 6, 1944, that company became known as the Cascades Plywood Corporation. From then on Cascades Plywood Corporation developed into one of the outstanding companies in the Douglas fir plywood region. Cascades expanded into the first storage-battery separator industry to establish a prominent position. An outstanding accomplishment of Max D. Tucker was the acquisition of a large volume of timber through a merger with the Lyon Lumber Company, owners of approximately one billion board feet of timber in the South Santiam River drainage. This achievement assured the long time operation of the Cascades Plywood Corporation.
In addition to being recognized as an outstanding and successful businessman, Mr. Tucker was also known as a humanitarian. Tucker’s phenomenal success as a businessman and his positions of leadership never precluded a close working relationship with those whom he supervised. Mr. Tucker was fond of children and young people. One of his greatest pleasures was helping unfortunate children. He took particular pleasure in disguising himself as Santa Claus and handing out presents which he provided the children of the Tucker-Maxon Oral School, an institution which he personally established and sponsored unfortunate children.
Although not having a formal education, Max Tucker considered such an education of utmost value to young people and diverted much time and money to educational institutions. His bequest of ten $1,000 scholarships each year to five boys and five girls graduating from Oregon’s high schools to attend one of Oregon’s colleges and universities speaks well for his interest in young people and his belief in the advantages of formal education. Tucker was particularly kind in discussing problems and advising young people who came to him for assistance.
Attributes of Max Tucker’s character included leadership ability, love of sports and an interest in the welfare of communities in which he lived or was associated. Tucker was a man of considerable wealth and he felt deeply an obligation to the society that had permitted him to accumulate this material worth. He conscientiously accepted this responsibility and was virtually interested in the welfare of the people of Lebanon and the surrounding area, a fact which is illustrated in the time and money Mr. Tucker spent while alive in fostering the Lebanon Community Hospital and the bequest upon his death of a large sum of money to this institution.
Mr. Tucker’s community interest extended into Portland to where he and his wife moved in 1940. Mr. Tucker served as a trustee of Lewis & Clark College and at one time was chairman of the endowment fund investment committee.
The stature of Max D. Tucker was well evidenced in the high record that his employees and associates held in him during his lifetime and at the time of his death on February 2, 1950. Max D. Tucker’s memory will linger on for decades after his passing.