Doyle Tucker needed his mother's help to climb onto the piano stool.

But once there, his small fingers knew more or less what to do.

That was how it started. Four years old when he first played at one of his mother's home prayer meetings, Tucker from that moment forward would always connect the ideas of worship and music.

The son of "Mother" Grace Tucker, the late pioneering pastor and legendary advocate for Tulsa's poor, Doyle Tucker would not only work with his mother throughout her ministry career but establish himself in ministry as well, traveling the world to promote church music and gospel singing.

The Rev. Doyle Tucker died March 5 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, of complications from brain cancer. He was 63.

A memorial service is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at Victory Christian Center in Tulsa.

A Tulsa resident, Tucker had been traveling on a ministry trip when he had to be hospitalized.

A community choir will sing at the service, including some of Tucker's own compositions.

The eighth of Grace and Otis Tucker's 16 children, Doyle Tucker was born in Okmulgee and would graduate from Dunbar High School there.

From there, he moved to Tulsa with his parents, and would go on to serve in the Navy.

Learning ministry under his mother, the first black woman to start an independent church in Oklahoma, Tucker began preaching at age 13 and for many years worked closely with his mother, serving as a youth leader, music minister and associate pastor.

He continued to assist his mother in later years as a consultant and administrative assistant, coordinating travel and appearances.

In 1978, Tucker was part of the organizing staff of Tulsa-based Faith Christian Fellowship, a church that grew into a worldwide ministry now with an active presence in 47 countries.

Tucker would continue to be associated with FCF, helping to establish music programs and worship ministries in churches across the country, conducting seminars, conferences and concerts.

A musician and songwriter, he recorded and released the gospel album "Emancipated" through Tulsa's Castle Records, along with several gospel albums under his own label.

Over the past two months, though dying from cancer, Tucker continued to enjoy singing with his family, including while in the hospital.

"I'm reminded of two things he said to us," his daughter Dara Bryant of Nashville, Tenn., said. "I asked him if he wanted us to stop singing so he could rest. His response: 'I don't need the kind of rest that's brought on by the absence of music.' Later, he told us, 'Nothing can preserve a legacy better than a song.' "

The fact that family members have so much of Tucker's music recorded, and with it his legacy, is a great comfort to them now, Bryant said.

"That's the way that he will live on," she said. "He can't help but live on. He put himself out there so his music and his spirit would live on through us all."

Tucker's survivors include his wife of 42 years, Lynda Tucker; seven children, Doratia Williams, Dalitia Spaulding, Dara Tucker Bryant, Darlon Tucker, Delon Tucker, Dianita White and Diamond Tucker; 26 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Tim Stanley 918-581-8385

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