For those that graduated from Westmoreland High School, Mr. Lucas played a part in your total high school experience. That role could have been as your Physics teacher, or maybe as your cross country coach. Maybe the role was as someone you chatted with in the halls that made you smile. Mr. Luke Lucas passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, May 21st at Buffalo General Hospital at the age of 69.

Luke was born on January 17th, 1947 in Nacogdoches, Texas. He carried his Texan accent with him for the rest of his life too! He received his Bachelor's Degree at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas and continued his education at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia where he received his Master's Degree. On June 25th, 1982 in Copenhagen, Denmark he married his sweetheart Micky Krol. Both shared over 33 years filled with love, laughter, and togetherness.

Before students in Westmoreland knew him as Mr. Lucas, many knew him as Colonel Lucas.  He served in the United States Air Force from 1969 to 1994 serving during the Vietnam War and Desert Storm eras. He served with honor in Turkey, Germany, Spain, Korea as well as in the States. After 26 years of service, he retired from the Air Force in 1994.

After his retirement from the Air Force, he accepted a position with the Westmoreland School District as a Math and Physics Teacher. He also served as the schools Cross Country coach, retiring after 15 years in 2009. At the graduation ceremony, he told students to "keep their eyes open, and when they come to a fork in the road “don’t take it lightly, but don’t fret it either.”

He was a dedicated teacher who loved teaching and was loved by his colleagues and all students. Here's what some former students are saying about him:

Karrie Wessing: "Great teacher, coach and mentor. He will be missed. "It doesn't matter what place you get as long as you tried your best"-Coach Lucas"

Brett Fortnam: "Mr. Lucas was more than a great teacher or coach. Yes, he was both of them, but more than anything he was a truly great human being. I will always remember him as one of the truly great influences I had in high school. I will always treasure his words of advice at my graduation. He was one of those unique persons who never seemed to have a bad day. He was always smiling and sharing his kind Texas wit. My life is unquestionably better for having known him and the world is a much better place because he was here. Godspeed and God Bless Mr. Lucas. You will be sorely missed."

Andy Smith: "Mr. Lucas was such a wonderful teacher with an amazing sense of humor, deeply saddened to hear of his passing"

Amy Schieferstine: I cannot believe Mr Lucas has passed. I had him for physics and his wife for kindergarten. Incredible people. He was always making class entertaining, telling stories, sharing advice, helping out, just being involved. He even spoke for my class' graduation to reveal his middle name to be Leon- the big mystery for years. He will truly be missed. RIP"

Megan Foss: "One of my favorite teachers and speaker at my graduation. I will never forget when you told us to always "live, laugh, and love" just like your initials. Life really is too short. Thank you for making an impact on my life and my classmates. You will never be forgotten in our hearts."

Photo via Paul Curtacci

Lucas was a member of the Roman Runners, Utica Road Runners and was looking forward to participating in his 6th Ride for Missing and Exploited Children on June 3rd. This year riders will be wearing black ribbons in memory of Luke.

He lived a very active lifestyle. He could always be seen running, golfing, playing tennis, and of course riding his bike. He was the type of man that always put a smile on your face. He always told funny stories, and cheered you up no matter the mood.

Family and friends are invited to call on Wednesday from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM at the Dimbleby, Friedel, Williams & Edmunds Funeral Home 40 Main Street in Whitesboro.  Funeral services will be held on Thursday at 9:00 AM and at 10:00 AM at Sacred Heart & St Mary Our Lady of Czestochowa Church in New York Mills where a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated.

Mr. Lucas, you will be missed by all the lives you have touched.

Photo via Paul Curtacci

BONUS VIDEO- The Ride For Missing Children - 2016