MYRON firstname.lastname@example.org_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-06-06 published
Thomas (Tuck) COCHRANE
By Leslie COCHRANE and Ken MYRON Friday, June 6, 2003 - Page A20
Husband, father, pilot. Born August 9, 1922, in Winnipeg. Died November 27, 2002, in Milton, Ontario, of Parkinson's disease, aged 80.
Tuck had three loves in his life: family, flying and golf. His embrace of family and pursuit of excellence in his other two passions made him a most joyful and contented man.
Tuck had an unquenchable passion to fly, dating back to Charles Lindbergh's transcontinental flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Listening to the radio for news of the pioneer's progress was a five-year-old boy nicknamed "Little Tommy Tucker." Tuck never lost his nickname or his passion for flying.
As a 17-year-old, he was already a licensed pilot when the Second World War broke out. He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Tuck was a feel-good, fun-loving guy and it was quickly determined that he didn't have the stuff to be a bomber pilot. But he was a fine pilot and spent the war based in England, North Africa, the Middle East, India and Burma. He dropped troops and supplies over "The Hump" -- the Himalayan Mountains. He had no rear gunner, just a co-pilot and a navigator. But he'd tell his grandchildren he always protected his backside on those dangerous flights by sitting on his pith helmet.
When the war ended, Tuck volunteered for another year of service overseas. He flew witnesses: and lawyers to the Nuremberg trials. He spent his non-flying time on his motorcycle, exploring the English countryside -- and no doubt the occasional pub. When he did return home to Winnipeg, he sold clocks at Eaton's. He undoubtedly was the worst salesperson Eaton's ever hired.
Tuck was married to Violet; they'd met in Winnipeg before the war. She became his soul mate and they would spend more than 50 years together. For the first years of their life they roughed it in the bush, living in log cabins while he flew. In short order they had three children: Decie, Leslie and Tom. They were among the first settlers of Lynn Lake, Manitoba, their house having been dragged by flatbed truck over hundreds of kilometres of ice from Sheridan. Tuck recorded this with his movie camera.
Eventually Tuck's desire to fly more sophisticated planes, combined with Violet's dream to live where there was running water and flush toilets, led the family to Toronto. There Tuck flew for a number of companies, culminating with the 25 years he spent flying the Sear's Canada jet.
As a pilot, Tuck often had lengthy periods of time on his hands while away. He had two ways of dealing with this: In winter, he'd take long walks. But he preferred to golf. And as with flying, he excelled. In his prime, he was a scratch golfer winning numerous club championships.
People gravitated to him because of his dynamic sense of humour. When living in Northern Manitoba, there was a little boy who loved to follow Tuck around town. "Where you going, Tuck?" he'd ask. "Crazy on a barge, wanna come?" Tuck would reply. "Yah, yah I do." The little boy was truly willing to go crazy on a barge, as long as it was with Tuck.
Tuck's final years were difficult. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease just after he retired. At first, he continued to golf but, eventually, the disease and dementia robbed him of this pleasure and he spent the last seven years of his life in a nursing home. But he charmed the staff and they too, mourned his death.
In the lobby of the Petro-Canada building in Calgary hangs a restored yellow Norseman plane. It's dedicated to the bush pilots who flew these planes to open up Canada's North. The call letters on that restored plane are CF- MAM. Those were Tuck's call letters. He spent thousands of hours flying that very plane around northern Manitoba.
Leslie COCHRANE and Ken MYRON are Tuck's daughter and son-in-law.
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