Obituary: Raymond Frederick “Fred” Zuker

Grandfather, longtime college administrator, author, joke teller

Raymond Frederick “Fred” Zuker, 77, of Longview, Texas, died November 13 surrounded by family.

Born December 30, 1945 to Raymond Francis Zuker and Naomi Amanda Zuker (nee Clark) in Dothan, Alabama, Fred was the oldest of four boys. He graduated from Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1963, and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Duke University, obtaining a full athletic scholarship to play football.

He served in the United States Army and returned to Duke University to obtain his master’s in education and doctorate in clinical psychology. He had a long and distinguished career in college admissions, enrollment management, and financial aid, serving at Duke University, Tulane University, Pomona College, University of California, Riverside, University of Dallas, Lambuth University, Parker University, and Texas Chiropractic College. He most recently served as chair of Logan University Board of Trustees.

He was a natural orator and had many hobbies, including hosting radio shows about movies and podcasts regarding healthy living. He wrote “The Dark Angel Turned Away” (co-authored with his father), “Standing Tall and Looking Good” (stories of his time in the army), and “Grace with Meals” (his cancer journey), aptly referred to as the Zuker memoir series. He was a third degree black belt in taekwondo and completed the Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas marathons.

“Fred was extremely likable and made lasting friendships wherever he was,” his family shared. “Along with his wife Melody, they were consummate entertainers who spent many occasions entertaining friends and family. Known as a master joke teller, Fred would regale his friends and family with his one-liners and had a penchant for repeating the punchlines. Family dinners were full of good food and plenty of laughter.”

In 2014, he was diagnosed with tongue cancer, and while he weathered chemotherapy and radiation, he maintained his good humor and joke telling skills, even when the treatments were insufferable. Through the love and care of his late wife, Melody, and their supportive friends and family, he was declared cancer-free in 2016, and he was back to telling his jokes and sharing stories with gusto.

On October 22, he experienced two strokes. He was cognitively aware and communicated through writing and spelling out his words. He was looking forward to physical and speech therapy and working hard on maintaining mobility on his “good side.” Sadly, on November 13, he succumbed to complications of those strokes.

He was preceded in death by wife of 22 years Melody Ann Zuker (nee Dunbar); parents Ray and Naomi; brother Murray Zuker; and nephew David Zuker (Mike).

He is survived by his daughters Sonya Zuker (husband Tim Ward) and Julianna Zuker-Brunzell (husband David Brunzell); stepdaughters Natalie Horton (husband Wyatt Horton) and Ashley Driskell (husband Will Driskell); grandchildren, Mitchell and Emma Klimek (Sonya), Kainoa Heskett, Olivia and Violet Zuker-Brunzell (Julianna), Scarlett and Sloane Horton (Natalie), and Allison, Mary Peyton, and Luke Driskell (Ashley); brothers Ron Zuker (Lana) and Mike Zuker (Tina); nephews Clark Zuker (Ron) and Jason Zuker (Mike); and friend, Norma Cochran.

Services were held November 18 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Longview, Texas.

In lieu of flowers, a donation is encouraged to the Women’s Center of East Texas at in honor of his late wife, Melody; the American Cancer Society at; or to a charity of your choice.


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