Pete Lutken, Jr.
Pete Lutken, Jr., "The Meanest Man in Burma," passed away on Monday, January 13, 2014 in Vicksburg, MS. Pete was born on September 5th, 1920 in Laurel, MS to Erma Curry Lutken, and Pete Lutken, Sr. The Lutkens moved to Jackson in 1921, and Pete grew up there, graduating from Central High in 1937.
He attended Mississippi State University, and was a member of the SAE Fraternity there, graduating with honors and a B. S. in Chemical Engineering. An ROTC Cadet, he was a 2nd Lieutenant in the army in 1941 when World War II began. He shipped out to India as an artillery officer, but soon disappeared into the jungles of northern Burma, operating as a guerilla commander for the British V-Force and later for the OSS in Detachment 101. Kachin tribesmen joined him, fought with him, and gave him the name Ka' Ang Zhau Lai at the end of the war: "He who was in it from the beginning to the end." He felt we owed them a "debt of honor" for their service and fought for that until last Monday.
After the war he attended Harvard Business School on the G. I. Bill, earned his MBA and returned to Jackson to work for his dad at the Lamar Life Insurance Company. He met Ruth Ray on a blind date in the summer of 1948. They fell in love and were married that fall. In 1954 he moved to Dallas to work for Investments Management Corporation, and they began raising their four children there. Pete was dedicated to his wife and children, reading and traveling with them, and participating in great conversations about books, ideas, and their studies as they grew up. He served as a scoutmaster with Troop 575 in Preston Hollow for some 30 years, and always loved being out in the woods. His colorful tales of the Kachins and Burma were told around many a campfire and still told today by his children and friends. His book is forthcoming!
Education and the Arts were important to him, and he never stopped reading and learning. For fifty years one of his favorite activities was discussing a good book with Ruth and a circle of close friends in their Great Books Club. In Dallas, he served on the boards of Hockaday, St. Marks, and the Episcopal School of Dallas and was a longtime member of the Rotary Club.
He taught Sunday school for over 30 years at The Church of the Incarnation and the Chapel of the Cross, where he was a founding member.
Preceded in death by Ruth, his devoted wife of 62 years, he is survived by his four children, three wonderful grandchildren, and many loved nieces and nephews. He will be missed by Kachin, American, British and other comrades in arms from around the world, and by many friends both young and old.
Instead of flowers, friends may donate to 101 Veterans Inc., 5337 Livingston Ave, Dallas, TX 75209, a nonprofit group that supports the Kachins in Burma, or to a
Services for Pete will be held at The Chapel of the Cross, 4333 Cole Ave., Dallas, TX on Saturday, January 18th at 2:00 PM.
Published in Clarion Ledger on Jan. 16, 2014