Richard Tuck, Derek Willhite, Frank Biafore
Richard Tuck, Derek Willhite, and Frank Biafore
photo courtesy of Playland-Not-at-the-Beach

Richard Tuck, Master of Fun

It is with great sorrow and joy that I let you know that Richard Tuck, driving force and creator of Playland-Not-at-the-Beach passed away Tuesday evening, April 12, at home with his partners Tim and Frank by his side. For those of you who knew Richard you know how many lives he touched and how incredibly positive and generous he was. It is for that reason I can’t help but also look for what joy we can find at this time. I am happy he passed away at home, as he wished, and that Tim and I were able to help him at such a special time.

I am thankful for the good wishes from all of our business associates, clients, candidates, and friends. I thank especially those of you from our D56 days, ACE and other Amusement park friends, square dancers, people who visited our home “It Must Be Magic” (the precursor to Playland), our CFA and circus friends (especially our dear friends at Circus Chimera) and last but not least our Playland-Not-at-the-Beach family, which truly is a family.

We were fortunate enough to know this was coming too soon down the road, though we also were surprised at how quickly he passed once he realized he could let go, that he needed to think of himself rather than the rest of us. It was his wish that there be no immediate memorial service. The last thing he wanted was to have people gathered in his name, downcast and speaking words like “sympathy,” “sorry” and the like while referring to him.

It was his wish that everyone be able to process the news at their own pace, and then when the time was right to have a joyous occasion to celebrate his life—so that is what will take place. There will be a gathering at Playland to celebrate his life, with people sharing stories of the best of times with Richard, music, food, fun, and performances by some of his friends and the people who frequently perform at Playland. The date of this event is likely to be in July and we will announce the date as soon as we have confirmed it. We will be sending out & posting information as it develops.

— Frank and Tim

On a slightly more personal note

We have had many visitors become volunteers and volunteers become friends. Many people we see only once or twice; others we see very frequently. We have seen some people move from the area or leave us unexpectedly. We have had guests and volunteers who we have seen grow and mature before our eyes.

When we were creating Playland we anticipated many people would be touched by the memory of Playland and the artifacts we collected. We never anticipated that Playland-Not-at-the-Beach would evolve into such a unique entity or that we would be so touched by the lives of our many Playland relations. We have had the privilege of getting to know well many of our volunteers and guests, and we look forward to seeing you all again.

The most frequent question we have been getting is about a memorial service of some sort. I addressed that issue in the statement above. The other questions have been about the future of Playland and about donations to honor Richard.

As for the future of Playland it is our intention to keep Playland open and operating. Our Advisory Board is meeting next month to talk about Richard’s vision of what Playland is and what it should become. As you can imagine we have had an incredible outpouring of love and support. I can tell you I have a renewed passion for not only keeping Playland open, but having it continue to be a tribute to the passion for celebrating all things fun.

Many people have asked about donations. Donations made to Playland between now and our Anniversary Weekend, May 28 & 29 will be put toward a new awning for the museum. We estimate that will cost at least $15,000, but it is something that we have needed for far too long already. I know once it is installed I will think of Richard every time I approach or drive by the building. If you would like to make a donation and designate it for a different purpose, please let us know and we will honor your request.

We do have an anonymous donor who is willing to match the first $2,000 dollars raised. If anyone else would also like to make a match offer please contact me.
Playland Not at the Beach is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit

For more details on what’s happening at Playland-Not-at-the-Beach in April, see:

Playland-Not-at-the-Beach nonprofit Museum of Fun, open to the public every Saturday, Sunday, and school holiday. Open evenings for private events 365 days a year. 10979 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito, CA 94530 (510) 592-3002. . Admission $10 for kids (to 13), $10 for seniors (55 and up), and $15 for general admission. Admission includes 34 free pinball machines, penny arcades, carnival games, treasure hunts, miniature dioramas, and surprises around every corner. ACE members receive a $5.00 discount on admission upon presentation of their ACE membership cards.

— Thanks to Frank Biafore for contributing this article.

ACE Northern California Tribute

ACE Northern California will have a fitting tribute to Richard Tuck at a later date.

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