Bill was born Nov. 8, 1930, to Reuben Elmer Lucas Sr. and Mary Lulu Bewick Lucas at Boone County Hospital in Columbia. He was a true renaissance man.
Bill lost both his parents at a young age, attended the Montezuma School for Boys, Kemper Military School where he was a Legacy Old Boy, and graduated from Hickman High School in Columbia. He attended the University of Missouri when he was called up from the Army National Guard and served in Germany.
He married his high school sweetheart, Martha “Marty” Ellen Conner on Dec. 21, 1952. Together for 58 years, they raised their family, loved, laughed, traveled, worked and lived the life we should all hope for. When Marty faced Alzheimer’s, he was her caregiver and best friend. She passed in 2010, and Bill adored her.
Bill loved to read but never judged a book or a person by its cover. He emphasized that quality to all he knew and helped over the years in their professional and personal lives. His career was in the family textbook and retail business, The Missouri Store Company most commonly known as MBS Textbook Exchange. The company was sold and he retired as President at 55 to continue on with a volunteer career. But his commitment to service organizations began long before that.
He joined the Acacia Masonic Lodge #602, entered Apprentice, made Fellowcraft, raised a Master Mason, became a member of the Valley of the Columbia Scottish Rite and created a Shriner into Moolah Shrine Temple all in 1960. He was a member of Aleppo Grotto and an active member of the Tiger Shrine Club in Columbia and served as President in 1983. Bill loved his work with the Tiger Shrine Scooter Patrol performing in parades and was also a Shrine Clown and performed with the Moolah German band.
He became a member of the Royal Order of Jesters Court #81 in St. Louis and after retirement transferred membership to Ft. Myers, Fla. Court and the Araba Shrine Temple. Bill was proud of the Shriner’s mission as was most evidenced by his passion for the Shriners Hospitals for Children. He received his Masonic 50 year membership pin on Sept. 1, 2010. In conjunction with his work with the Shrine, Bill was a 65 year life member and a Past Exalted Ruler of The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks, Lodge #594.
In 1985, when he and Martha moved to Sanibel Island, Florida, Bill started a literal second career with the United States Power Squadrons. A 25-year active member, Bill served the Sanibel Captiva Sail & Power Squadron as commander then continued on to serve as commander of District 22 (west coast of Florida). During that time he attended hundreds of Changes of Watch. Additionally, he taught Advanced Piloting on Sanibel, chaired the Rules Committee, and served several squadron commanders as Flag Lieutenant. He also was a member of the National Member Benefits Committee. Bill’s contributions of volunteer time and assistance were enormous and made without consideration of self. He was to have been honored with Life Membership status at the 2018 USPS Annual Meeting.
Bill was a MacGyver at the core. He could do anything, fix everything and his sense of adventure was well known. He started flying at 15 and without ever being a commercial pilot, still managed to have 10k+ hours behind the yoke. He built and raced motorcycles and sailed in the Mackinac races on Lake Michigan.
When his children were young, he built a 5/8′s scale houseboat for their pleasure. Bill and his buddies then followed that up and built two houseboats to take all their kids on a weeks long adventure from the Lamine River all the way to New Orleans, twice! He rebuilt a bulldozer and dug out an eleven acre lake. Bill loved to cook and built pits that roasted many a whole hog. If you needed something done, Bill Lucas was your guy.
In retirement, when not traveling with Marty, family and friends, Bill rediscovered his love of woodworking and created hundreds of beautiful pieces for his family and friends. He also loved gifting to charitable auctions which raised considerable sums for worthy organizations.
While more than five looked up to Bill and called him dad, he is survived by his children, Sami Lucas of Fort Myers, Florida, William Chilton Lucas, Jr. of Waco, Texas, Reuben Conner Lucas of Columbia, Ramona Diane Lucas Smith of Columbia, and Matthew Allen Lucas with his wife Ann of Memphis, Tenn. He had five grandchildren, John Matthew Gray, Cory Michael Smith, Justin Conner Smith, Anna Chilton Lucas and Ellen Conner Lucas. There are two great-grandchildren, Matthew Dallas Gray and Lucas James Gray.
Bill is also survived by his most special niece whom he helped raise, Barbara Candice “Candy” Conner Epperson and her husband Robert of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and was blessed with more nieces, nephews, family and friends beyond words.
Bill was predeceased by his wife, Martha “Marty” Ellen Conner Lucas; sister, Rosemary Bewick Lucas Ginn; and brother, Reuben Elmer “Bud” Lucas, Jr. and sister-in-law Ramona Kathryn Conner Downey.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be directed to the Martha Conner Lucas Endowment at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Office of Advancement, 704 Conley Ave., Columbia, MO 65201-4209. This endowment provides scholarship support for medical and nursing students with financial need specializing in and/or researching geriatrics, Alzheimer’s or dementia-related care.
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