Sam Stockard, The Murfreesboro Post, November 5, 2015
“She openly said we’ve got to get these people out to vote, regardless of party.”
Dora Rucker spent 14 of her 104 years on the Rutherford County Election Commission, breaking ground as the county’s first black commission member and focusing on voter registration as she served until age 96.
“Dora was somebody who was rock solid. She’d always carry voter registration forms with her, and any time she met somebody and thought they might not be registered, it didn’t matter what political party they were, she said you need to get registered to vote,” said Rutherford County Administrator of Elections Alan Farley, who served with Rucker on the commission. “She gave a lot of time and effort to the betterment of our community. And she was a real pleasure to work with on the commission.”
Rucker, who died Oct. 28 at Northside Health Care Center, attended Sulphur Springs School as a youngster, where she helped start the fire on cold mornings to warm the one-room schoolhouse, according to a WGNS report.
She served on the Election Commission from 1993 until 2007 as a Democratic appointment.
Asked why community involvement was important, Rucker told WGNS on her 101st birthday, “Some of them don’t realize how wonderful it is, because if they get blessings from the Lord, you should be blessed. And it’s just nice to be in some organization and you always learn something new.”
Rucker said her secrets to reaching 100 were “loving everybody” and “praising God.” She was married to Chester Rucker for 62 years until his death in 1998.
Election Commissioner Johnny Taylor recalled Ms. Rucker drove herself to commission meetings up into her later years and never missed, whether they were held locally or in Nashville or Memphis.
“Miss Dora was a fine lady. She was a true Democrat,” Taylor said. “She was very much interested in seeing that everybody voted.”
Rutherford County needs more people like Rucker who are willing to serve the community and stand up for their beliefs, Taylor said.
Current Election Commission member Carolyn Peebles recalled meeting Rucker as a small child when she sold Avon products to her mother.
Peebles said she admired Rucker for years and noted she was an excellent businesswoman, in addition to serving on the Election Commission.
“I have followed in her footsteps, but she laid a great foundation for us,” Peebles said.
Hooper Penuel served as administrator of elections during Rucker’s tenure on the commission.
“She was just an outstanding person, and she was really interested in getting out the vote,” Penuel said, describing her as a community activist. “She openly said we’ve got to get these people out to vote, regardless of party.”
Writer Sam Stockard can be reached at email@example.com.