The Edgartown courthouse was built on Edgartown’s Main street in 1858. Since then, little has changed about its front-facing facade.

“Not anymore,” said Gretchen Tucker-Underwood, as she helped her grandchildren unveil a new plaque to honor her father, family patriarch and retired district court judge Herbert Tucker.

Plaque comes to rest at front of Dukes County Courthouse. — Maria Thibodeau

“They wanted to put it on the side of the building, but I can be very persuasive when its important,” said former high school history teacher Elaine Weintraub. “This was going on the front.”

The plaque commemorates the work of Judge Tucker, who presided over the Edgartown district court from 1979 to 1985, and marks the building as the 30th site on the Martha’s Vineyard African American Heritage Trail. Judge Tucker's portrait also hangs inside the courthouse, unveiled at a previous ceremony.

A crowd of about 50 gathered outside the building on Saturday as friends of the judge, members of the Island community and four generations of family members shared memories of a man whose influence stretched far beyond the bench. In attendance were Judge Tucker’s wife, Mary Tucker, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday, and two of his great-grandchildren, Brandon and Jason Mercer.

Gretchen Tucker-Underwood speaks about the legacy of her father. — Maria Thibodeau

“I went through a lot of judges over the years,” said Thomas Teller, who spent over 30 years as district court clerk- magistrate. “But Judge Tucker was my favorite. He was just such an honest, respectful and decent man. And he adored his family.”

Ms. Tucker-Underwood grew up admiring her father’s version of jurisprudence and commitment to juvenile court. “He always wanted to be the guy who gave the kids a second chance, even when we all thought they didn’t deserve it,” she said. “My father was very special to me, and it’s such an honor that all these people thought so too.”

Judge Tucker was known in the community for opening up his tennis court to those who otherwise would never have the opportunity to play the sport. He hosted an annual tournament in which everyone was welcome, longtime friend Gerard Peterson said. Judge Tucker was also instrumental in integrating the Boston Red Sox.

Off the baseball field and outside the courthouse, his legacy lives on in his descendants. “He instilled into us the importance of service to the community,” said grandson Peter Wharton.

A crowd of about 50 gathered to witness the event. — Maria Thibodeau

Mr. Wharton chose the quotation now permanently etched into the courthouse’s exterior.

“While my depositions will have to be fair,” the plaque reads, “they must also reflect a recognition of the wrongs that helped to create these problems.”

Just before the crowd headed over to the Martha’s Vineyard Museum for refrehsments, Ms. Tucker-Underwood shared some last words about her father’s dedication to the job. Judge Tucker would put on his robes at 8:30 a.m. and not take them off until 4:30 p.m. When an age limit forced him to retire at 70 years old, many thought it was too soon.

“He was not willing to give it up,” Ms. Tucker-Underwood said of her father. “And now, he’ll always be here.”