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William H. LUKING

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William H. LUKING Obituary

William H. Luking

William H. Luking, legislative advisor to mayors, governors, legislators, and countless clients, died June 12, 2014, of natural causes. He was 66.

Luking was born Aug. 7, 1947, in Connersville, Ind., to Lowell and Elizabeth McCarthy Luking. The eldest of nine children, he is survived by siblings: Mary Anne Morris, Beth Luking, Meg Luking, Gene Luking, Joe Luking, Charlene Wood, Laura Jamison, and Rosemary Card.

For the last several years, Luking enjoyed spending time with his close companion, Claire Manning.

A 1965 graduate of Connersville High School, he graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 1969 and in 1972 from Northwestern University Law School, where he was an editor for the prestigious criminal law journal. Luking held a commission as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves.

Luking represented the City of Chicago in Springfield from 1986 until his death. He was involved in every significant issue affecting the city and its relationship with state government. He focused on complex matters in taxation, appropriations, economic development, public pensions, and public transit. His work usually focused on the legislature, but if needed, he addressed regulatory, administrative, and executive areas as well.

His range of clients shows his influence in legislative corridors. He represented the Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Park District, Chicago City Colleges, and the Chicago Transportation Authority. He took special pride in assisting the Chicago Botanical Garden, along with a host of corporations and not-for-profits.

The work done by his firm, Luking and Associates, for the City of Chicago included issues as diverse as tax increment financing, 911 surcharges and other telecommunications matters, aviation -- including the proposed Lake Calumet Airport issues and O'Hare expansion -- and guarding the city's Home Rule powers.

Luking and Associates revamped CTA's funding and governance structure through a sales tax increase that provided a stable stream of revenue. Luking was a primary legislative agent opposing the "Wirtz" liquor franchise legislation of 1999, which was subsequently invalidated in court. For Sterling, Illinois' Northwestern Steel and Wire, Luking and Associates coordinated a bipartisan legislative leadership and membership effort. He organized supplier, customer, and labor support to secure job training funds and $6 million in grants that kept jobs alive.

More recent Luking projects included the expansion of Soldier Field, negotiations for Boeing's move to Chicago, Midway Airport privatization, and legislation for the proposed Olympic Games.

The firm, which included colleagues Michelle Kelm and Susan Sikes, was equally proud of its pro bono work, such as assisting in securing funds for the Chicago Christian Industrial League, as well as helping Tuesday's Child, the Howard Area Community Association, the Chicago Children's Advocacy Center, and the Southwest Youth Collaborative.

For 30 years, Luking was relied upon simultaneously by multiple generations of Springfield insiders and participants. He could be walking a hallway with a law school intern, teaching basics, when a senior legislator would pull him aside to explain the city's latest request. His affability and charm endeared him not only to fellow Democrats but also to Republicans, to officeholders and staffers, to corporate titans and folks who would clean the halls as he worked late into the night, during sessions, to find ways for his clients to succeed.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked Luking to hold his proxy on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Municipal League. At the request of Sen. John Maitland, Luking served on the working groups for Transportation, Land Use, and State Policies. Sen. Steven Rauschenberger posted Luking to the Public Member Planning Committee. The Illinois State Board of Elections appointed him to the federal Help America Vote State Planning Committee. Luking was also active in the Illinois Tax Increment Association.

Luking's broad acquaintanceship connected him to many with whom he disagreed politically but enjoyed personally. So deep was his commitment to helping others that he would introduce his friends to each other, once even saying, "I fear what you two will do together, but I thought it was time you met, anyway."

His memory was prodigious. Luking was called on as a master legislative historian who, with eerie precision, could recite the fate of short-lived amendments in overtime sessions 20 years earlier for the benefit of causes he championed at present.

Reflecting on his long association with the Chicago Botanic Garden, Luking recently invoked his favorite, Thomas More: "The many great gardens of the world, of literature and poetry, of painting and music, of religion and architecture, all make the point as clear as possible: The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden. If you don't want paradise, you are not human; and if you are not human, you don't have a soul."

Bill Luking was supremely human and had a blessed soul. He has reached his eternal garden.

Services for Mr. Luking have been held. Memorial contributions in his honor may be made to: Hope School or Sojourn Shelter and Services.

Published in Print in The State Journal-Register on June 26, 2014
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