A spirit this vivacious, classic and kind is not one easily forgotten. Here, we honor the late Buckhead matriarch Susan Tucker.
Susan Tucker wearing Dolce & Gabbana PHOTO BY KIMBERLY LINK
Since childhood, Susan Tucker exhibited poise, a ladylike disposition and a gracious heart. According to friends and family, she was always put-together with not a hair out of place. The same can be said of her during her gala days, showing up to events like the Swan House Ball decked out in Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, St. John and the like, with a charm that could win over even the toughest critics. A breath of fresh air seemed to fill the room as she entered it. Tucker held true to the classic way in which things were done: handwritten thankyou notes, gracious introductions and full address books. But above all, Tucker was kind. And her kindness manifested itself in more ways than one—most notably through her philanthropic efforts. If you’ve ever sat at a performance at the Alliance Theatre or Atlanta Opera, or rushed to the High Museum of Art to see a once-in-a-lifetime exhibit (as have I), Tucker played a crucial yet unassuming role in your experience. Although her philanthropic efforts were vast, vanity and praise weren’t in Tucker’s vocabulary; instead, she opted for steadfast support and unwavering kindness.
Tucker was born in Pensacola, Fla., but soon moved to Atlanta, where she spent most of her life. She attended Westminster Schools, earned a degree in French from Sweet Briar College and studied a year at the École du Louvre in Paris. A well-traveled and elegant woman by the time she made her Phoenix Society debut at the Capital City Country Club in 1964, Tucker’s network was positioned to flourish, and while she had a beau a couple of counties away, she wasn’t prepared to leave Atlanta or her mother, Betty Ann McKenzie Tucker. It was in Atlanta in 1974 that she started her business, Tucker & Associates Inc., specializing in advertising and public relations. Her company grew, and in the last few years of her life she shared she was proud of the diversity of clients she had. In recent years, her client list reflected Atlanta’s prospering entertainment scene, from rappers like Jermaine Dupri to singers and actors. Tucker served on boards including the Forward Arts Foundation, the Georgia Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Michael C. Carlos Museum, as well as donated to the Atlanta Humane Society and the Shepherd Center, among an extensive list of others.
After her passing April 8, the city of Atlanta, and specifically the media industry, grieved the loss of one of its pillars. When her health started to decline, one of her only follow-up care questions was ‘May I still wear heels?’ according to good friend and colleague Laurie Coleman. This is a testament to her spirit and position on being a lady, first and foremost. There is no better way to honor a true icon than through the words of those closest to her. It is through these words that our Atlanta community will find healing and respite knowing that Tucker’s legacy lives on.
“When I met Susan Tucker, we hit it off immediately. She said, ‘You really are a people person.’ She offered me the job on the spot and she became a mentor, colleague and friend. She was keenly interested in her clients and friends (most of whom overlapped), and if she knew someone, she also knew their spouse or partner, children and pets’ names! She cared deeply about her friends and listened intently to them and to clients. Some people would call her old-fashioned, but the truth was that she believed in proper behavior. She was an independent woman who was progressive and inclusive in her thoughts and actions.”
Client Bev Jones, vice president of communications and development at Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power and Potential, Susan Tucker, and Laurie Coleman at the 2019 Empower Party PHOTO: BYCHRIS BERRY/ BEN ROSE PHOTOGRAPHY
“I met Susan in 1988 when she assisted me in forming my first company, Jenny Pruitt and Associates. We have had a personal and business relationship for 32 years, and then she assisted me again in 2007 to form Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty. She was one of the most warm, engaging and charming people I have ever known. She has been a great friend for all these years and I loved her and she will be surely missed.”
“Susan was the consummate professional, always thinking ahead and executing to present her clients in the best possible way. No one could ever ask for more. Personally and professionally there will only be one Susan Tucker—so special!”
Susan Tucker (left) with her mother, Betty Ann McKenzie Tucker. PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE AJC/KIMBERLY LINK
“She was an independent woman who was progressive and inclusive in her thoughts and actions.”
“Susan was a bright light in our community and had a genuine passion for serving the Atlanta area through her extensive business and philanthropic efforts. Our city is a better place thanks to Susan, and her legacy will continue to impact future generations. She carried herself with the highest level of sophisticated grace, and it was a true honor to know her not only as a professional but also as a friend. She always went out of her way to make everyone she met feel important and was very intentional in her relationships. Susan meant so much to so many, and our company was fortunate to have the opportunity to experience her kindness, wisdom and grace. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her loved ones.”
Jack Sawyer Jr.
“Susan was the definition of elegance. Always the same. Always kind. Always thoughtful. Impeccable and unflappable. I saw her manage a few last-minute surprises at events—and not blink or falter. I loved her. My whole family loved her. She would always take time to come sit with my mother and ‘surveil the room’—with laughter and great insightfulness. She genuinely was one of a kind.”
“I still remember my very first Swan House Ball many years ago. I had opted for a short, fully beaded dress because I felt it would be more comfortable for cocktails on the Swan House lawn, but upon arrival, I knew I had chosen poorly and I immediately regretted my decision. As I chatted with a very wellknown Atlanta socialite and friend, I confessed my uneasiness, and at that moment, Susan Tucker appeared at the top of the staircase overlooking the lawn. The socialite looked up and said, ‘Darling, Susan Tucker, Buckhead’s one and only grand dame, is wearing short too. Not only are you perfectly fine, but now you are trendsetting with her and that’s quite the accomplishment.’ Later that evening, Susan Tucker introduced herself to me and told me that she loved my dress, and that’s where our friendship and my admiration first began for Buckhead’s matriarch. She will hold a special place in my heart forever and I will continually strive to be more like her for the rest of my life.”