Willard "Bill" Luke

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LEHMAN TWP. — Willard "Bill" Luke, 76, of Lehman Township, entered into eternal life the evening of Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Hospice Unit, Plains Township, surrounded by his family.

Mr. Luke was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, on Oct. 13, 1937, the son of the late Ralph and Olive Luke.

His 10-year U.S. Navy career was highlighted by working at the White House and Camp David during the last year of Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidency and the first year of John F. Kennedy's. He babysat Caroline and "John-John" Kennedy at Camp David.

He served in Newfoundland and Barbados, British West Indies, as well. Overseas, living in Istanbul, Turkey, Bill took a boat to work from the European side of the Bosphorus River to the Asian continent where there was a surveillance outpost behind an old fort. The information from that area informed President Kennedy that missiles from Russia were on their way to Cuba. Bill spent his off duty time working with Operation Mobilization to spread the gospel in Turkey.

Returning to civilian life, Bill worked remodeling homes. He later worked for Service Masters Industries as head of maintenance at hospitals in Boston and Lockport, New York, some school systems and eventually to the Sisters of Mercy retirement center in Dallas.

Later he worked for Little Lumber Co. and then Weis Markets for more than 10 years.

Bill was a loving husband, father and grandfather.

He was preceded in death by sisters, Pearl Hershelman and Thelma Sorenson.

He will be greatly missed by his wife of 48 years, Virginia; daughters, Deborah Freeland and her husband, David, Middleburg, and Valerie Luke-Kelley and her husband, Roger, Wilkes-Barre; grandson, Brandon Kelley, and granddaughter, Amber Kelley, who resided with their grandparents. He is also survived by his sister, Edith Johansen, Milton, Massachusetts, near Boston; ten nieces and three nephews; many great-nieces and great-nephews.

Bill's family extends heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Oza, the chemotherapy nurses and staff in the oncology unit at the Wilkes-Barre VA Hospital and the nurses and staff at the Meadows Nursing Center during Bill's short stay there. They are very thankful for the staff and volunteers of the VA hospice unit who enabled them as a family to spend quality time with Bill as his body succumbed to an aggressive form of leukemia.

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday from the Fellowship Evangelical Free Church, 45 Hildebrandt Road, Dallas, with Marc Ramirez and Dennis Madeira, pastors, officiating.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to the VA Hospice Unit, 1111 E. End Blvd., Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711; Fellowship Evangelical Free Church, 45 Hildebrandt Road, Dallas, PA 18612; or a .

Online condolences can be made at

Funeral Home
Curtis L. Swanson Funeral Home Inc.
2386 SR 118
Hunlock Creek, PA 18621
(570) 477-2500
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Published in Times Leader from Aug. 24 to Aug. 25, 2014
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