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The Woes of White Owl

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Kansas University super fan White Owl once had it all.

The 60-year-old Vietnam Vet and eccentric campus presence — real name Jimmy Tucker — was known by everyone around Lawrence, KS for his love of KU sports and his wacky antics.

Thanks to senior-friendly policies, he could attend classes for free, and roamed the campus hollering out rally chants and dancing about.

White Owl even got some national notoriety, being featured as a “Fan of the Game” on Fox broadcasts, and became something of a YouTube sensation.

Then life got even better for White Owl…he won the heart of a 22-year-old Kansas undergrad, and they made plans to get married.

Unfortunately, things didn’t work out.

Now White Owl is behind bars for violating a restraining order, stealing books from the library and possessing the demon weed.

White Owl’s tragic fall from grace is depressing, but just weird enough to be worth exploring. So let’s make that happen.

In happier times, the University Daily Kansan wrote a profile of White Owl that explained what he was all about.

With a love of Kansas sports, a Carpe Diem attitude, wacky hippie garb and a powerful spirituality that could only come from Native American blood, White Owl was once the talk of the town (granted, in a pretty boring Midwestern town).

Usually surrounded by a group of friends, White Owl seems to be everywhere. From the steps of Hashinger Hall to the stands of Memorial Stadium, it is impossible to ignore his eccentric behavior. When walking on Jayhawk Boulevard, you can hear White Owl hooting out his usual Jayhawk propaganda or see his famous dance moves, which he says he learned from taking tap dance and ballet lessons as a child.

White Owl said he was not trying to receive attention but instead was trying to be an inspiration to students. If you can look past his bright outfits and booming laughter, he has a simple philosophy on life.

“We have to live today like it’s our last. That’s what I learned from Vietnam,” he said. “I live like it’s my last day because friends are not here. I live with a joy.”

White Owl, who is part Lakota Sioux, said his name was given to him by a Cherokee man.

That, or as Deadspin noted, he just adopted the name of a brand of blunt.

If you haven’t spotted White Owl on Jayhawk Boulevard, you might have seen him inside one of your lectures.

“If I’m not learning until I die, then I’m not living,” he said.

[…]Kansas City, Mo., senior Michael Enriquez…said he was not bothered by White Owl’s antics — until they interfered with his studies.

“I think that they are just rantings and ravings, and while I think it is fine for somebody to be here, sometimes the rantings and ravings get to be a little much,” Enriquez said.

White Owl might have just remained another crazed superfan — like a peace-pipe smoking version of that obnoxious Jets fireman guy — but his story became much more complex and empathic when he met the woman that he wanted to make his third wife.

The Kansan delivered this heartwarming story:

Sorry ladies, but one of Lawrence’s most famous bachelors will soon be off the market. Jimmy [Tucker] – otherwise known as “White Owl” – will be getting married to Julia Lee, 22-year-old Lawrence junior, at the end of the summer.

The 61-year-old White Owl said he came to Lawrence a year ago to do a research project on Agent Orange but soon became one of the faces of the University as his dancing and yelling at KU games got the attention of fans and television cameras. It wasn’t until recently, though, that White Owl said that he fell in love.

It was a storybook tale…White Owl was wandering the campus doing his usual hollering and yelping when he noticed a young woman standing alone.

He knew intuitively that her soul was aching, and he prayed that she would be sent to him…somehow.

The next day, White Owl “coincidentally” crashed the young lady’s American Studies class. He claims that he was a guest speaker, but I think he just busted in there and went into his usual spiel about peace, love and Jayhawks.

The young lady was moved:

White Owl talked to the class about believing in themselves and loving one another. After class, Julia told White Owl how much his message meant to her.

“You are the first person to tell me that,” White Owl remembered saying.

The two became inseparable after that, starting off as friends but began spending more and more time together. Julia began to feel that their relationship had more potential.

“After a little while I began to think. ‘I want to be with this guy in heaven.’ That is when we began to talk about marriage,” Julia said.

While the two decided to remain celibate until marriage, they celebrated their love in a lengthy photoshoot with the Kansan that has to be seen to be believed…

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[Wipes tear] That’s so goddamn beautiful, you guys…

Huge, sweeping hat tip — nay, make it a hat doff — to Kansan photographer Mindy Ricketts for getting these shots and keeping a straight face the whole time.

While most everyone in Lawrence was thrilled for the betrothed pair, there were some that did not like the idea of White Owl and Julia Lee getting hitched.

Namely, all of Julia Lee’s family and friends.

In an interview with the Kansan, she revealed that everyone in her life was pretty much up in arms about the whole thing:

Kansan: How is your family responding to this?

Julia: They are still kind of struggling with this. My dad wants to meet with a third party so we can communicate about this. He wants to meet with me, my mom and a preacher to sort some of this stuff out. He wants this to end because he is not comfortable with this at all.

K: When was your last relationship?

J: Right before this one. We were engaged when I met White Owl. It was a bizarre relationship because it was long distance, and we didn’t really talk all that much. We had been together for three and a half years, but when I met White Owl, I started to remember the things I need in my life. I have to close doors and if I see an open door, I need to walk through it.

K: What was your former fiancé’s reaction when you told him the engagement was off?

J: He flew down here on the plane to patch things up, but I told him I couldn’t promise that we would be back together. So he flew in and it was weird because I didn’t even really recognize him.

K: What was White Owl’s reaction when you started talking about marriage?

J: I was at Target and he would come and visit me while I was working. One day after work I called my friend Laurel, and I told her ‘At the risk of sounding completely insane, I think I am supposed to marry this guy,’ and she told me that I was insane. I drove over to his place and we were talking. I knew he was feeling bad because I knew he didn’t want to push anything on me, but I knew how he felt about me. I told him my phone conversation with Laurel and he fell to the floor. It was really cool.

K: What are you planning to do for money?

J: He gets money for disability, and we are working on some Web sites in the future.

K: Any kids in the future?

J: Right after we get married.

Well…I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the love between White Owl and Julia was not to be.

While the details are still hazy, at some point Julia cut White Owl out of her life, going so far as to take out a restraining order against him.

But the love of a white owl flies free over a mere court protection and he couldn’t stay away from his one-time muse.

As a result, White Owl got tossed in the clink for violating the restraining order twice, along with a host of other misdemeanors he’s committed during his short time in Kansas.

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Tucker, 62, of Lawrence, was arrested Thursday after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He is accused of violating a protection order on Sept. 8, with his 23-year-old ex-fiancee listed as a witness.

Court documents say Tucker failed to show up for court Oct. 30, ahead of a Nov. 4 jury trial scheduled in the case, which was subsequently canceled. Tucker now has a hearing scheduled for Tuesday morning.

A second violation of a protection order case was filed against Tucker Oct. 16…

In June 2008, Tucker was engaged to Julia Lee, a 2004 Lawrence High School graduate. Their plans for a public wedding were postponed a month after the engagement was announced and eventually were called off altogether.

Tucker was on diversion for a possession of marijuana charge at KU from September 2007, and is scheduled to be seen by a judge Jan. 28 regarding a violation of the terms, city prosecutors said.

He’s also scheduled on New Year’s Eve to appear in Lawrence Municipal Court for a theft case, in which he’s accused of stealing three books from KU’s Anschutz Library.

KU police said Tucker admitted to the $227 theft case, which reportedly occurred between February and August.

As blog KC Confidential reports, though, White Owl isn’t bitter about being spurned by his woman. He still thinks she’s the cat’s pajamas.

We will say one thing for Julia Lee, she painted some kick ass murals while they were still together: a testament to their short-lived love that shall never die.

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The fairytale May/December romance between out-there University of Kansas basketball and football yell leader – sixty something Saul “White Owl” Tucker and 20-something Lawrence artist Julia Lee is on the rocks. The wedding is totally off as is pretty much any form of contact, White Owl says. Lee declined to elaborate or be interviewed.

“I can’t call her and I can’t text her or I go to jail,” White Owl says. “We’re going to court in December.”

The flip side of the pair’s media-fueled love affair gone terribly wrong: a pair of lifesize, mural-like paintings Lee did while the romance was still ablaze.

In the one of White Owl, he appears to be wearing some sort of loin cloth while bopping a sword with some kind of hammer thingie. The painting of Lee depicts her in austere brown peasant garb, sporting a detached, almost biblical expression.

“Yeah, they’re incredible,” White Owl says. “I would describe them as Medieval, right when the philistines were rocking. They’re separate but they go together. She’s standing in a field of wheat and so am I supposedly. And I’m pounding on a sword to turn it into a plowshare.”

Get it? Peace on earth.

Lee says the paintings are neither for sale or on display at this point. But White Owl speaks highly of Lee’s talent despite their current difficulties.

“She is going to be one of the world’s greatest painters currently alive,” he says.

Stay strong, White Owl…while you keep getting older, Kansas undergrads stay the same age. Surely another mystic love will come along soon.

Just try to stop stealing library books.

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About Alpine McGregor
Just like you, man. I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. All in the game, though, right?

4 Responses to The Woes of White Owl

  1. 0whole1 says:

    But…but…*why* did their love fail?

    *small little sob*

    On another note, man, they have some long arms.

    L-I-V-I-N.

  2. Anonymous says:

    white owl is a fool and deserves what he gets, put the pipe down and rejoin reality.

  3. Pingback: Describe the "weirdest" person you've ever been around. - Page 4

  4. Pingback: “Meet White Owl’ | ltownnation.com

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