Avis Tucker

Avis Tucker speaking at the State Historical Society of Missouri’s Annual Meeting in 1993. [State Historical Society of Missouri Photographs (P0137)]

Avis Tucker

Full Name: Avis Tucker
Born: July 30, 1915
Died: December 17, 2010
Missouri Hometown: Warrensburg
Regions of Missouri: Kansas City
Categories: Entrepreneurs, Journalists, Women


Avis Tucker was the owner and publisher of the Warrensburg Daily Star-Journal from 1947 to 2007. She not only contributed significantly to Missouri’s newspaper industry, but also served on the boards of several important state-level institutions. She was the first woman to preside over the University of Missouri’s Board of Curators and the State Historical Society of Missouri’s Board of Trustees.

Early Years

Avis Tucker was born on July 30, 1915, in Concordia, Kansas, to Ralph Green and Nellie Schroer Green. When she was a small child, her family moved to Pleasant Hill, Missouri. Her grandfather, L. K. Green, expanded electrical services in rural Kansas prior to World War I. When the family relocated to Pleasant Hill, they started Green Light and Power, another electrical utility company, which later changed its name to West Missouri Power Company. After the Greens sold that company in the late 1920s, they moved to Kansas City, Missouri. Later in life, Avis’s father managed a citrus farm in California before returning to Kansas City to serve as president of the Missouri Public Service Company.


Growing up in Pleasant Hill, Avis attended local public schools. She was also a member of the Camp Fire Girls, an outdoor activities organization. After moving to Kansas City, Avis attended Southwest High School. As a student, she was involved with several clubs, including the Veda Literary Society, where she served as treasurer and vice president. She graduated from Southwest High School in 1933.

Avis then enrolled at the University of Missouri-Columbia. While at the university, she was a member of Zeta Sigma, Student Assembly, Freshmen Commission, Cwens, Woman’s Self-Government Association, and the Panhellenic Council. She was also a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and served as president her senior year. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1937.

William Tucker & the Warrensburg Daily Star-Journal

In 1940, Avis Green married William Tucker. Originally from Fulton, Missouri, William Tucker attended Westminster College and the University of Missouri-Columbia. A journalist by profession, he worked as a reporter for the Columbia Daily Tribune and editor for the Kansas City bureau of the Associated Press.

Seeking new publishing opportunities, the Tuckers moved to Warrensburg, Missouri, in 1946. A year later, they bought the Warrensburg Daily Star-Journal. A significant daily newspaper in Johnson County, the publication had served residents of the region since the Civil War. The name Daily Star-Journal was adopted in 1913, and in the years before the Tuckers bought it, the newspaper was managed by Wallace Crossley, a former state legislator and lieutenant governor of Missouri. While managing the Daily Star-Journal, the Tuckers also owned Johnson County Broadcasters, Inc., which operated radio station KOKO in Warrensburg.

Publisher & Curator

When William Tucker passed away unexpectedly in 1966, Avis took on two significant responsibilities. First, she took over as sole publisher of the Daily Star-Journal. As publisher, she was responsible for the daily operations of the newspaper, from making final decisions about the articles and advertisements in its pages to managing the staff and the budget. She continued in this role until she sold the newspaper in 2007 to the News-Press Gazette Company of St. Joseph, Missouri. When asked later in life why she decided to step into the publisher role, she replied: “I decided I was going to run this paper. I was going to try. I told everyone that I had more nerve than ability, which was the truth.”

Second, she succeeded her husband on the University of Missouri Board of Curators, a group of leaders from around the state appointed by Missouri’s governor to oversee its flagship university. Tucker was only the fourth woman ever appointed to the board. In 1972, she became the first to serve as its chairwoman. After her term on the board ended in 1975, she received the University of Missouri School of Journalism’s Honor Medal. She also later served as a trustee for the University of Missouri-Kansas City and as the first woman on the Westminster College Board of Trustees.

Breaking New Ground

In 1968, in commemoration of the centennial of the first women admitted to the University of Missouri-Columbia, Avis Tucker was named one of the one hundred distinguished women graduates of the university. Soon after, she broke new ground for women on several fronts. In addition to chairing the University of Missouri Board of Curators, she also served as the first female president of two newspaper organizations, the Missouri Associated Dailies and the Missouri Press Association.

Tucker became a trustee of the State Historical Society of Missouri in 1970. From 1992 to 1995, she was elected president of the Society’s Board of Trustees, the first woman to serve in that role. She received the State Historical Society’s Distinguished Service Award in 1996.

For her impact on the newspaper industry, Tucker was the first woman inducted into the Missouri Press Association Newspaper Hall of Fame. She also played a significant role in starting the Missouri Press Foundation, which provides grants, scholarships, workshops, and other forms of support to journalism students and working journalists. Tucker was named chairwoman emeritus of the foundation in 2010. In memory of their time at the university and their dedication to the journalism industry, she established the Avis G. and William C. Tucker Endowment at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Community Service

Due to her leadership in the newspaper industry and higher education, Tucker received many recognitions of her talent and contributions. She held honorary degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Central Missouri, William Jewell College, and William Woods University. She also received numerous awards, including the National Newspaper Association’s McKinney Award, University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Chancellor’s Medal, and the University of Central Missouri’s James C. Kirkpatrick Excellence in Governance Award. In 1981, she was named to the Academy of Missouri Squires, an organization honoring Missourians for their accomplishments at local, state, and national levels.

Additionally, she served in several public service roles during her life. She was selected to serve on the Missouri State Public Defender Commission, Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education, Governor’s Advisory Council on Literacy, and Missouri Gaming Commission. She was also chair of the board for UtiliCorp United, an electricity and natural gas company.


Though she spent most of her life in Warrensburg and at Sunrise Farm in Centerview, Avis moved to Kansas City in 1999. She passed away in Kansas City on December 17, 2010.

For sixty years, Avis Tucker managed the day-to-day operations of the Warrensburg Daily Star-Journal, and for more than forty years she was its sole publisher. Reflecting back on her career in journalism, she remarked: “I have felt an obligation to publish a paper which serves the community and takes sides on issues that I think are best for the community and the most people.” This commitment to public service impacted not only the readers of the Daily Star-Journal, but also countless educational, journalistic, and community institutions.

Text and research by Sean Rost

References and Resources

For more information about Avis Tucker’s life and career, see the following resources:

Society Resources

The following is a selected list of books, articles, and manuscripts about Avis Tucker in the research centers of The State Historical Society of Missouri. The Society’s call numbers follow the citations in brackets.

Articles from the Newspaper Collection

  • “Green Family Entered Utility Field As a Tiny Supplier of Electricity.” Kansas City Star. December 30, 1953. p. 6. [Reel # 20917]
  • Mansur, Michael. “Pioneering Female Journalist Dies.” Kansas City Star. December 24, 2010. p. A6. [Reel # 23765]
  • Miles, Jack. “Pioneer for women in newspapers dies at age 95.” St. Joseph News-Press. December 22, 2010. p. B3. [Reel # 38591]
  • Morgan, Sally. “Curators Call Her Madam President.” Kansas City Star. August 29, 1971. p. 1C. [Reel # 21733]
  • Pearce, David. “Goodbye to Avis Tucker.” Belton Star Herald. December 30, 2010. p. 5A. [Reel # 54920]
  • “William C. Tucker Dies At Local Hospital.” Warrensburg Daily-Star Journal. November 11, 1966. p. 1. [Reel # 43635]

Books and Articles

  • Dains, Mary K., ed. Show Me Missouri Women: Selected Biographies. Kirksville, MO: Thomas Jefferson University Press, 1989. v. 1, p. 153-154. [REF F508 Sh82]

Manuscript Collection

Outside Resources

These links, which open in another window, will take you outside the Society’s website. The Society is not responsible for the content of the following websites:

  • Missouri Press Association
    This webpage contains relevant information about the Missouri Press Association and the affiliated Missouri Press Foundation.
  • University Archives, University of Missouri
    This webpage provides a directory to specific collections featuring Avis Tucker, including minutes from Board of Curators meetings and photographs of her as a curator.