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Friday, May 19, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Parkland dedicated to former top official

Seattle Times Snohomish County bureau

SNOHOMISH COUNTY

The job description for Snohomish County executive should include stand-up comedian.

County Executive Bob Drewel and his predecessor, Willis Tucker, brought a dose of laughter yesterday to a ceremony in Tucker's honor. A future park, between the Silver Firs area and Highway 9, was named for Tucker, who is struggling with cancer. The 84-acre parcel was christened Willis D. Tucker Regional County Park.

"I'm slurring my speech because I'm on drugs, so call the sheriff," Tucker told a large crowd of friends, family, former co-workers, and civic and government leaders gathered to pay him tribute.

Drewel and other speakers heaped Tucker, 77, with love and respect, recounting the events that took him from his Beards Fork, W.Va., birthplace to Snohomish County, where he served nearly 12 years as the first county executive.

Before his 1980 election, Tucker worked 15 years as editor of the Western Sun, a former south-county edition of the Everett Herald.

"One of a kind isn't much in a poker game, but one of a kind means everything when it comes to leaders, and we thank you greatly for that," Drewel told him.

Tucker, who is as well-known for his jokes as for his political achievements, was ready for his stint at the microphone, gently roasting his West Virginia hometown, his old poker buddies and himself.

Tucker oversaw a large expansion of the county park system during his years in office, adding Picnic Point Park and 400 acres of adjoining open space, the 1,300-acre Lord Hill Regional Park, the first stretch of the Centennial Trail and about 950 acres of the Snohomish River estuary.

The new park, which will have tennis courts and baseball and soccer fields, lies on the southwest corner of the county's former Cathcart landfill property. The Snohomish County Council last week approved transferring the acreage to the county parks department for the new park.

The future park property, now covered with second-growth trees, was acquired during Tucker's term.

Tucker yesterday said he always appreciated recreational opportunities for youth, especially "swimming holes" and Little League baseball.

"To be involved in preserving something like this for (kids) is outstanding," he said.

Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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