THE BONDHOLDERS: David Tuckerman

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David Tuckerman
Age: 84
Residence: Arlington
Family: Four children, 15 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren
Amount of GM bonds invested: $20,000
Date of purchase: 2003
Percent of portfolio that were GM bonds at purchase: 7 percent
Percent of portfolio now: Less than 1 percent
Reason for purchase: A son and a financial adviser managed his portfolio.
Reason for holding after downgraded to junk status in 2005: Income
Original investment goal: Money for assisted-living care for himself and wife, Betty, who had Alzheimer’s disease.

Of all the Alzheimer’s patients at the Brighton Gardens assisted-living facility in Arlington, Betty Tuckerman was the only one whose healthy spouse came to live with her.

“I took care of her,” said David Tuckerman, 84. Mrs. Tuckerman died last year, but Mr. Tuckerman continues the couple’s long-standing tradition by reading to students at Randolph Elementary School.

Six years ago, when his adviser invested $20,000 in GM bonds, Mr. Tuckerman’s retirement savings were worth $260,000, he said.

He needed a lot of investment income to pay the hefty bills for Brighton Gardens. The bills at Culpeper Gardens, where he now lives, are much smaller — as is his portfolio.

His investments are now worth $90,000, hurt by the declining market and bad investments, including his GM bonds and the Brighton Gardens bills.

Mr. Tuckerman’s son and an investment adviser ran his portfolio until he took back control last year.

“I didn’t even know [GM bonds] were junk status,” he said. “I said, ‘Are these junk bonds? Why in the world did we ever buy those?’”

Yet he held on to the bonds.

“I was liking the [$2,174 a year in] income that came from them. I had no idea it was going to go down in value.”

With $13,000 a year in Social Security and a $7,000-a-year pension, Mr. Tucker depended on the $14,000 a year in investment income he was receiving. He now collects just $10,000 from the investments, largely because the GM bonds have stopped paying out.

“How can the government take over the majority share of the thing and leave the people who invested $27 billion to support GM next to nothing?” Mr. Tuckerman asked.

Still, Mr. Tuckerman remains upbeat. He has a large family to support him if he is ever in need. Some family members worry that he may be enjoying life too much, he said.

“I recently got my driver’s license again,” he said proudly. “I’m driving around in an ‘04 Cadillac DeVille. My children are upset.

“I also play golf once a week,” he said.

Click here to view vignettes of seven other GM bondholders.

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