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Betty Lukas


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Betty Lukas Obituary
Betty Lukas

Betty Lukas, the first female News Editor of the Editorial Pages for the Los Angeles Times, died March 25, 2016 in the Palos Verdes Estates home she had lived in for nearly 50 years. She was 91 years old, and died of ovarian cancer.

Her three children were with her.

Mrs. Lukas, whose career in journalism spanned 50 years in Michigan and Ohio as well as California, returned to the newsroom after she had moved to the Peninsula in 1966 and her three children were attending local schools.

Prior to joining The Times, she was feature editor of the Palos Verdes Peninsula News for seven years (1967-1973) during which time she studied nights for two years to earn a master's degree in Journalism (1972) from The University of Southern California.

She was with The Times for 18 years, filling assorted editing jobs that began in 1973, when she became the first woman to join a copy desk of eight men at the Orange County Edition of the paper in Costa Mesa.

After seven years in that position, she moved to Los Angeles and joined the then View copy desk before moving on to the Calendar desk, and finally, the Editorial Pages.

During 12 of those 18 years, she and two other Times journalists launched the Communications Department at California State University Dominguez Hills (Art Seidenbaum and Charles Hillinger were the others.) As a visiting instructor, she developed curriculum for five various journalism courses: beginning news writing, advanced news writing, editorial writing, column writing and editing. She also tutored at the university and later spent two years as a tutor at Peninsula High School.

Following her retirement from The Times in 1991, she enrolled at El Camino College, where she studied architecture for two years, fulfilling a lifelong passion for the subject. She designed a Southwest-style adobe home for her son, Brian, and his family, which they built near Santa Fe and is now their vacation retreat. Other long-lived enthusiasms were photography, basket-making, baking, sewing, travel, art, theater. Three of her short plays were produced in 1999 and 2000 while she was part of Southbay Playwrights. Her love affair with baseball was chronicled when she was 10 and her photo appeared in The Toledo Blade for knowing so much about the Toledo Mud Hens. She later transferred her attachment to the Dodgers.

Closer to home, and more current, her small volume of poems called "Delirium, a Little Story About Love" was published in 2003.

Her volunteer commitments included editorship of "H.E.L.P. Is Here" for six years; publicity chair for the South Bay Auxiliary of Harbor Interfaith Services' Fall Gala in 2008; publicity chair for the Dawn Unity Group for eight years, and docent in the Local History Room at the Palos Verdes Library. During her six-year stay there, she produced 34 articles on the subject for the Palos Verdes Peninsula News, which with senior librarian Marjeanne Blinn as her editor, were turned into "Peninsula Past: the Complicated Birth of Paradise," a 68-page illustrated chronicle of the Palos Verdes Project that was underwritten by Peninsula Friends of the Library and published in 2011. (Both books are still available at the library, Terranea Resort, the Interpretive Center and other shops around the Peninsula.)

From 1996 to 2013, Betty produced profiles and photos of noteworthy local residents for "Peninsula People." In that same year, she was invited to return to the "Peninsula News" as a columnist and feature writer. She was still writing for the paper when she died.

An eclectic Protestant, she was confirmed as a child in the American Lutheran Church; married in Park Congregational Church (both Toledo), and while a resident of the Peninsula, belonged to Neighborhood Church (United Church of Christ); St. Luke's Presbyterian Church, and, finally, Rolling Hills United Methodist Church.

She was the proud mother of Dr. Brian Neil Lukas (Wendy), Berkeley, Ca.; Herbert George Lukas, Boca Raton, Fla.; Maria Elizabeth Colman (Barry), Santa Clarita, Ca., and was grandmother to Michael, Coleman and Allison, children of Brian; Berkeley and Brian, children of Herbert, and Natalie and Lukas, children of Maria.

She welcomed her first great-grandchild, Mona, on July 21, 2015. Her parents are eldest grandson Michael Lukas and his wife Haley Pollack of Oakland.

She was the sister of Herbert D. Chamberlain, Reynoldsburg, Ohio, who preceded her in death on Jan. 24, 2016. She was divorced from Henry V. Lukas in 1975.

Betty was born in Toledo, Ohio, on March 5, 1925 to Esther Hoffman Chamberlain, who died two weeks after Betty's birth. Esther's cousin Nettie Larsen and Husband Neil, adopted her. During the course of her life, Betty maintained close connections with her father, Dr. Herbert D. Chamberlain and brother, Herbert, who lived in Southern Ohio.

She graduated from the University of Michigan in 1947 with a bachelor's degree in English literature and three years experience at the Michigan Daily which launched her lifelong commitment to journalism. She made a major contribution to the remodeling of the Student Publications Building and attended its rededication in Ann Arbor in 2007.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 7, 2016 at Rolling Hills United Methodist Church at 10:00 a.m. Rev. Jonathon Chute, pastor of Rolling Hills United Methodist Church will officiate. Music will be provided by Wistar Wood, and Jean Cobb. A reception with light refreshments and a time to share memories will follow the worship service.

Friends who might wish to honor Betty's memory are invited to contribute to The Betty Lukas Lectures on Contemporary Culture, which she has established at Rolling Hills United Methodist Church. Address: Lukas Lectures, Rolling Hills United Methodist Church, 26438 Crenshaw Blvd, Rolling Hills Estates, 90274. The programs will feature experts from all aspects of cultural life in these times. Please sign the guestbook at www.dailybreeze.com/obits
Published in Daily Breeze on Apr. 3, 2016
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