From College Grad, Wife, Mother, Coach, Teacher, Administrator, Marketing Guru, to Real Estate Prodigy
by Joycelyne Fadojutimi
Although Tucker Dudley’s careers have been a time-consuming, delightful aspect of her life, she considers her greatest accomplishment her 34-year marriage to Maurice “Mo” Dudley. He and their daughter Brett have been her greatest supporters as she has kept herself busy and productive through the decades. For her, they are “my most attentive supporters in all my endeavors.”
She and Mo met here in Longview by chance when a mutual friend introduced them. She describes it as love at first sight despite some differences. He is eight years younger, and a transplanted Maine Yankee now married to a Native Texan of long lineage. Their courtship lasted just four months before they stepped up to the altar, and there were those who were, in fact, surprised this pairing of opposites lasted.
Like her parents, Brett loves people, believes in the philosophy of “never quit,” and is very adept and successful in her own chosen fields. By matriculating at Louisiana State University, she converted her parents into ardent LSU Tiger fans. While at Baton Rouge, she met her own soul mate and has been his wife for 13 years. Being in a mutually supportive family is something she learned from her mother.
“I was raised in a loving environment in Elysian Fields,” Tucker says. “everybody knew everybody else and kept an eye on all of us. The phrase ‘It takes a community to raise a child’ had to have originated in Elysian Fields.'”
Tucker’s parents were deeply in love and infected their three daughters with this powerful bond. The girls were spaced widely. The oldest, Scherry is eight years older, and younger sister Trina is almost nine years her junior. In essence, these sisters were all only children with the same parents. Her mother and sisters were their high school graduating class’s valedictorians. Tucker, however, mixed her studies with tireless extracurricular activities, and did very well in both areas.
“I was a cheerleader, played trumpet in the band, played varsity basketball and tennis,” she says. “I loved sports. My mother was an incredible athlete and pushed us all to play and play well.”
These sisters learned the family lesson that being a quitter, be it in education, sports or careers, is utterly unacceptable. To this day, she never contemplates doing anything halfway of in a desultory fashion. She throws herself 100% into whatever she does and completes the tasks to the absolute best of her ability. This includes her spiritual life.
“I don’t remember feeling that I was being forced to attend church. It was an important part of my life that I loved, and still do today,” she says. “I feel that I grew up in the very best place, surrounded by the most wonderful people in the world.”
She and her sisters still strive to live up to their parents’ lofty examples on how to be a blessing to everyone in their lives. She describes her mother as “beautiful, strong and very smart.” She stayed at home, dedicating herself to raising her daughters while her husband worked in the oil fields. They were not a family with a lot of money, but they were rich in other ways. “In our sweet little town, we had no idea that we were very nearly poor,” she says.
Education was a key route to success, and her parents made sure they were able to send her to college. After graduating from Elysian Fields High School, she enrolled first at Panola Junior College, Southwest Texas State (now called simply Texas State) and as a junior at Stephen F. Austin State University and pulled down a bachelor’s degree in her double majors of history and physical education. She also took a master’s degree in secondary education and did not stop there. Her next accomplishment was earning a Master’s in school administration and a certification to be a school superintendent.
Stephen F. Austin is known for training excellent educators. It was also only a ninety-minute drive from her hometown. She was a working student, putting in so many hours in jobs that she had no student debt when she graduated. The rewards of hard work are something she absorbed from her industrious parents, and as soon as she graduated, she was out on her own.
“In those days nobody moved home after college,” she says. “We just understood that we had been given a great opportunity, and when we graduated, we got a job and supported ourselves.”
Tucker spent 30 years working in education before dedicating the next 13 to sales. Two years ago, she began her latest vocation as a realtor when she took a position with Trina Griffith and Company. Her college studies in history and physical education were a blessing during her time as an educator, working as a physical education teacher and coach. She coached basketball, track, volleyball and tennis, and had no favorite–she loved them all. She also adored her students and athletes. She spent 13 years coaching basketball, volleyball and track in the Carthage, Henderson and Pine Tree Independent School Districts, and managed to accomplish this despite having a baby. Still, her time with a whistle around her neck had to end.
“After my 13 years of coaching, my daughter was almost six years old,” she says. “I remember the first day I was able to pick her up from school and go home with her she said, ‘Are you really going home with me? Don’t you have to practice?’ It was time to spend more time with my daughter and be a better wife.”
She shifted her faculty duties from the playing court and field to the classroom, becoming an American History teacher at Pine Tree Junior High. After two years, she won the position of history lead teacher, coordinating all history activities and tutoring novice history teachers. She performed this role flawlessly for seven years, and then moved into administration. She worked as an assistant principal and principal at the junior high, middle school and primary school levels. She spent her final two years as an educator as principal of Tyler’s Hubbard Middle School. She even made time to serve two years as Region 7 field service agent, working as liaison between public schools and the Texas Education Agency. This ended her time in education. It was time to “re-invent.”
Tucker went to work as an educational furnishing salesperson for School Specialty, one of the major school supplies and educational furniture firms in the country. During her five years with this firm, she won such recognitions as Rookie of the Year, Million Dollar Club Member, and regional Top Salesperson. This job was a labor of love and led to her being sought out by Lone Star Furnishings, a top educational furnishings company.
“I took the job and worked there for six years in which time the company grew into a powerhouse,” she says.
This chapter of her life saw her spend eleven years totally furnishing Hallsville High School, Spring Hill High School, some new elementary schools in the Longview ISD, and other schools throughout East Texas. Following this latest vocational journey…she retired. It did not last.
“I was retired and hated it! Yep, it was time for another re-invention,” she says. “I woke up one morning, turned to my husband and said I was going to school and get my real estate license, and I did.”
This she loved. She slipped easily into her real estate career. Helping clients in such a monumental move as selecting a home is terribly fulfilling for her. Like her earlier jobs, it involves helping others, and this comes naturally to her. Younger sister Trina Griffith is her broker.
“She is by a long shot the best boss I have ever had,” she says. “She had suggested years ago that I do this, and I can’t imagine why I waited so long.”
Trina gave her an essentials bag with the lettering, “She believed she could, so she did.” She adopted this motto to define her life philosophy. It perfectly describes her family’s ingrained attitude.
The Trina Griffith and Company firm of Longview, Texas employs 15 unselfish employees who make their caring inclination a part of their job. The firm’s high moral character shows through as its employees make every effort to earn a good living by helping others…buying and selling property in such a way that everyone involved comes out ahead.
The term “real estate” refers not only to land and the structures on it, but the ground beneath it and the sky above. Some say “real” comes from the Latin word “Rex” meaning royal or king, and this is because kings owned all the land in their kingdoms. America’s Constitution originally permitted the vote solely to those owning real estate. Although this aspect has long since vanished, real estate remains the quintessential asset, never losing its value and needed by all. Although Tucker has only recently commenced her foray into this field, she has already proved herself.
“I have enjoyed success already and was awarded as one of the “Rookies of the Year” in our company after my first full year due to the fact that I became a multi-million-dollar producer,” she says. “I love it and hope to continue this career for a long time to come.”
She rises daily eagerly anticipating helping a client she has recently met, or with meeting somebody new who needs help in finding a dream home. She loves showing property, searching for property, and doing the required paperwork for each sale or purchase.
“I can hardly believe I’m getting paid for doing something I love so much,” she says.
Despite being almost nine years younger, Trina has been an ideal role model for her big sister’s new vocation. The two have always been awfully close, and now savor working together. This is in keeping with her past job history. All her professions have come together to give her a delightful sense of fulfillment and accomplishment that transcends financial gain.
“Education, although not a high-paying job, was a very rewarding career that I wouldn’t trade for anything,” Tucker says. “Shaping and molding young minds and bodies is no doubt one of the most important jobs in the world.”
Being in sales introduced her to many wonderful people who became lifelong friends. The things she sold greatly enriched many lives. Again, she points to her father’s motto, “Others, Lord yes others. Let this my motto be.” Her faith is indeed her guiding light and anchor.
“My faith is in Jesus Christ. I don’t really like any label concerning religion besides that of Christian,” she says. “I thank God every day that I was raised by Christian parents and family members who served their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
She has no memory of ever not believing. She and husband Mo attend The Church at Lake Cherokee. It is where they raised their daughter. Most of this non-denominational congregation’s members are former parishioners of denominational houses of worship. She and Mo were part of a small group that essentially started this church that has grown to between 120 and 175 active members.
Most of her community involvement activities are church-related. She has served as a Sunday School teacher, been a member of Women of the Church, directed Bible Studies, helped in Bible Schools, supported such initiatives as the Highway 80 Rescue Mission, Heartisans, and the Samaritan House in Tatum. She also is a former member of Zonta. Now that she is again living in Longview, she hopes to become involved in yet more areas of the community.
“Longview has come a long way during the 18 years my husband and I lived at Lake Cherokee,” Tucker says. “I want to be a part of it now that my husband and I have moved [back] into town.”
For the city of Longview this will be a true blessing.