In September of 1993, after surfing perhaps the biggest wave anyone has ever ridden in Montauk, Tucker Geery said: “What was cool was that everyone watched out for each other. There was a real energy in the water. It was the best part of the day.”
In and out of the surf he loved, Mr. Geery projected a sense of wonderment accompanied by a smile that seemed impossible to contain. His friend Greg Donohue described him as Montauk’s favorite son.
He was a gifted carpenter, devoted family man, and Little League coach who, with his brothers John and Gibb, was lured to Montauk by its waves in 1973. Mr. Geery died at home on Saturday of cancer. He was 54.
“I came to the East End/Montauk 35 years ago,” he wrote in December of 2008 as a thank-you that appeared in The Star after a fund-raising event organized by his many friends.
“Like many people, I moved out here for the physical beauty of Montauk; the ocean, uncrowded beaches, the fishing, hiking, and for the surfing — also a quieter life away from the city. I met Kathryn, my wife, and raised two daughters, Hana and Simone, here. Life in this town was great. I almost took it all for granted because I was just living my life.”
“Recently I have come to find out what the true beauty of this town is; it’s the people of this community — people helping people when families are in need.”
Tucker Geery was born on Oct. 26, 1955, one of four sons of John T. Geery and the former Anne Gibb. He spent his early years in East Williston and graduated from high school there in 1973. That summer he moved with his mother and brothers John and Gibb to the Shepherd’s Neck Inn in Montauk. John got a job at Pizza Village and Tucker worked in the kitchen at Mr. John’s Pancake House.
“I was hitchhiking on West Lake Drive on my way to town for a slice. He picked me up in his ’62 Dodge truck,” Kathryn Nadeau, Mr. Geery’s wife, said of their first meeting in 1976. They were married on May 4, 1985.
Mr. Geery’s daughters, Hana Geery, 22, and Simone Geery, 20, have been living at home to help care for their father. He is also survived by his brothers, Scott Geery of Montauk and Saleem Pernath (formerly known as Gibb Geery) of Hempstead, as well as 14 nieces and nephews. His brother John died while surfing in Puerto Rico in November of 1979.
Tucker Geery coached the Montauk Friends of Erin Little League team for five years beginning in 1995. “The importance for him was that he believed in teaching girls to have fun and not just win,” Ms. Nadeau said.
John Pomianowski of Montauk, a painter, fellow surfer, and longtime friend, described Mr. Geery’s pure style whether he was surfing, snowboarding, or building things out of wood.
“He had an interesting way of cutting through crap. He went right to it. Very creative, a very good finish carpenter. His work was clean and beautiful. I never saw Tucker snowboarding. I know, from what he told me, he wasn’t into jumps, spins, and air, but Kathryn told me that people stopped in their tracks to watch him carve,” Mr. Pomianowski said.
Mr. Geery was known for his clean, economical surfing style as well. On “Big Wednesday,” Sept. 1, 1993, swells from Hurricane Emily wrapped around the rocky point in the Montauk Moorlands that surfers call the Ranch. The bluffs were lined with spectators. Only five surfers made it out. Conditions were perfect. Tucker Geery was waiting far outside when he spun around and paddled for the wave of the day, perhaps the wave of the decade.
“It was tough getting into it,” he said later. “I started to get up but then got back down and took a couple more strokes. Once I got into it I didn’t see how big it was except that it got bigger as it moved into the cove.”
It was a spectacular ride by all accounts, several hundred yards long, and fast. To no one’s surprise, rather than thump his chest, Mr. Geery praised the camaraderie in the water, the shared experience of the day.
Friends and family will gather at the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. today. A funeral service will be held tomorrow at St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church in Montauk starting at 11 a.m. Msgr. Richard Liddy, the Rev. Leo P. O’Brien, and the Rev. Michael Reider will officiate.
Memorial contributions have been suggested to East End Hospice, P.O. Box 1048, Westhampton Beach 11978, Habitat for Humanity, 270 Peachtree Street, N.W., Suite 1300, Atlanta 30303, and/or St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church, P.O. Box 5027, Montauk 11954.