Ruel Melvin Luckingham, age 94, has gone home peacefully to be with his Lord on December 16, 2020. “Lucky,” as most knew him, was born on August 6, 1926 in Hartford, son of Ruel & Virginia Luckingham. He eloped in New York City to Adela Virginia Larson in the 11th hour just before he was enlisted in the Army on September 30, 1941. They enjoyed a very long and deeply loving marriage for almost 71 years (Del passed on September 14th).
Lucky has one living sibling. Doris Pierce (100 years young as of this writing). She is the recipient of the “Oldest Sibling Longevity Award.”
Lucky is predeceased by his brother Robert Luckingham, and 3 sisters: Shirley Szeluga, Joyce True and Jean Austin. He is survived by his son, Stephen Luckingham and Sharon “Shar” Christman (“adopted daughter”) as well as his grandsons Daniel Luckingham, Michael Luckingham, Sr. and his wife Brooke, along with 3 grandchildren, Ashley, Brittany and Michael Jr. Having 5 siblings constitutes a long list of several “in-laws,” nieces and nephews, too many to note here, but recognized as being important and special to him as well as him being important and special to them. Lucky always showed respect for everyone.
Lucky was a great father who was stern, but generous and caring. The two greatest words of wisdom he passed on to his son, Stephen, were these:
“All things are negotiable.”
“Never be afraid to ask for anything, all “they” can do is say “no.”
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his military life. If I failed to include that in this obituary, he would have had me court-martialed, shot by a firing squad, and then have my lips ripped off for a “trophy.” I know all of you who are reading this can hear him now, which is in keeping with his typical sense of humor. Having a “good sense of humor” was important to him, and anyone who could throw it back at him got his greatest appreciation and respect. He loved that!
At 17, he illegally enlisted into the Army in 1943. They sent him to Luzon in the Philippines. He told me that having gotten tired of walking, he jumped ship into the Air Force where he trained to become a bomber pilot. He was one of the first to fly the “new” B47 “Strato-Jet.” His assignments were flying reconnaissance missions over North Korea as well as making bombing runs.
Life back in the U.S. had him stationed in several locations, the longest being in Alexandria, VA where he worked at the Pentagon in Top Secret War Games with Russia.
After that assignment, he wrestled with a decision the Air Force actually gave him with regard to his interest in being stationed in Bitburg Germany or Hawaii.
Mom and I were surprised that he even bothered to ask us our opinion. When he asked me why I didn’t want to go to Germany since it would be a free trip to a European country, I told him that I’ve heard German words before, and they are too long.
Fortunately, he took my advice and accepted a 3 year stint at Hickam Air Force base near Pearl Harbor on Oahu, Hawaii.
In 1968, at the end of that tour of duty, he was given another option to go to Vietnam or retire.
I remember him telling them that he had already served in two wars and wasn’t interested in participating in another one.
Lucky wasn’t good at retirement. He couldn’t sit still. At 26 years in the service, having brought him to the age of 43, he entered into civilian life as a Purchasing Agent at Aetna Life & Casualty in Hartford, CT. He retired a second time after 15 years there. After that, he became a counsellor at Ellington High School. During his time there, he drove the local EMT and Ambulance vehicles.
I learned from some of the “kids” that rode with him that he would take them to Dunkin’ Donuts on the promise they wouldn’t rat on him to their teachers. It was one of the best kept secrets in Ellington High School.
Lucky’s passion for flying influenced him to teach others how to fly small General Aviation aircraft. He started that sideline interest at Wheeler Air Force Base in Hawaii, and picked it up again at Ellington Airport while working at Aetna and Ellington High School.
When Lucky actually retired in his 60’s, he developed many friendships at the McDonald’s in Vernon, CT and Dunkin’ Donuts in South Windsor, CT. It was at McDonald’s where he started learning Spanish from some of the workers there. At Dunkin’ Donuts, they gave him an official Dunkin’ Donuts name tag with the label “BOSS.” He was quite popular to say the least.
In addition to showing respect for everyone, one of his other great assets was always keeping a positive attitude, rarely complaining about anything. Lucky was consistent in that demeanor, even in his last year of being bed-ridden from a permanently dislocated hip. In spite of being legally blind and hard of hearing, he was the one who always teased and joked with the staff at Norah’s Place, a residential care home where we called the workers there “Angels!” He sported a smile all the time and cheered up those who normally would have been the ones who would do their best to cheer him up.
Quite the man on many levels.
Lastly, his love for his wife was very deep and devoted. His care for family and friends were equally loving. Not being the recipient of the kind heart he had will be significantly missed by all of those who crossed his path.
Rest in eternal peace most blessed Father, until we meet again. And please tell “Mom” all of us say hello.
Some of you have asked about honoring Dad. Consider sending your gift to the Veteran’s Administration.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Ruel Melvin Luckingham, please visit our floral store.