Donald Conrad Lucas passed away January 7, 2022 at the age of 91, holding the hand of his dear wife of 62 years, Beverly, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease and a short battle with Covid-19. He will be greatly missed by his wife, their four children, and their nine grandchildren, ages 40 to 4 1/2. Don was the last surviving child of Charles Elias Lucas, a railroad safety officer, and Alma Lauritze Hansen, a homemaker and immigrant from Norway, and he’s no doubt being joyfully greeted by his parents and all five of his siblings.
Don was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on July 18, 1930, the middle child between two sets of twins. He grew up in Depression-era Salt Lake City and Southern California, where he fondly recalled picking and eating fresh oranges, straight out of the plentiful groves. He loved his mother’s freshly baked bread (so much that he was known to sneak home from church to cut off the heel of the bread and scoop out and eat the insides, replacing the crust to hide his crime).
At age 17, he followed his thirst for adventure and traveled across the United States with a friend, working odd jobs along the way. They made it as far as St. Louis, and after about a year, he headed back home, where his dad got him a job with the Union Pacific Railroad.
At age 21, Don enlisted in the Navy and was stationed on the USS Bairoko, where he served as an electrician’s mate during the Korean War. In 1954, he and his shipmates witnessed the Castle Bravo thermonuclear tests conducted in the Marshall Islands, and he vividly recalled the experience of trying to (unsuccessfully) outrun the nuclear fallout.
After he was discharged from the Navy, Don briefly studied commercial art at the University of Utah, where he finished several abstract paintings that would hang in his family home for decades. Realizing the limitations of a career in art, Don quite literally shifted gears and started driving for IML trucking, where he worked for 28 years, cementing his lifelong habit of rising well before the crack of dawn and going to bed hours before nightfall. He relished the solitude of the early morning hours, where he’d enjoy a cup of coffee, a chocolate-chocolate donut, and the Salt Lake Tribune, which he’d read in its entirety before heading off to work at IML, or later at PIE, CCI, or Yellow Freight.
Still a bachelor at the age of 29, Don attended the Greater Salt Lake car races one summer with his brother, Willy, where they were lounging on the hood of Don’s red 1959 Corvette. A young telephone operator and hairdresser strolled by on the arm of another man. Willy was already acquainted with the young lady, so he gave Don her phone number. Don called her a few days later. Within the month, Don and Beverly had eloped to Elko, Nevada, where the county judge took a break from a murder trial in order to marry them in the basement of the courthouse on August 28, 1959.
Nine and a half months later, on June 15, 1960, they welcomed their first daughter, Karste. Shortly thereafter, the young family purchased their forever home in Sandy, Utah—a brand-new, white-brick rambler with weeping mortar and a price tag of $14,500. They welcomed another daughter, Lynsey, in 1962. When the girls were ages 10 and 8, respectively, they were blessed with a mischievous little brother, Travis, followed two years later by a baby sister, Jennifer. Don worked tirelessly at a physically demanding job to provide for his family, exhibiting a strong work ethic and bedrock integrity that his children are forever grateful for.
In his spare time, Don loved taking his children water skiing on Deer Creek Reservoir and Utah Lake, swimming at the White Tower Swim Club, and embarking on road trips all over Utah. He was also an avid reader, devouring hundreds of mysteries, westerns, and thrillers, which he kept track of in a series of spiral notebooks, eventually running out of fresh material at the Sandy Library. He also helped keep at
On the road again. Goin places that I’ve never been…I can’t wait to get on the road again. least five car magazines in business long past their heyday, reading them cover to cover before passing them along to other gear heads, including his son and grandsons.
After his retirement in 1991 (thanks Teamsters!), Don spent those early morning hours (post-coffee and donut) working out at a nearby gym, a habit he maintained well into his 80s. He also loved cruising around Sandy on his recumbent bicycle, working on Old Bess (his vintage Jeep truck), going on long walks, puttering in the yard, going to classic car shows, shooting at targets in the West Desert, organizing his tool shed, taking his grandchildren out for hamburgers and ice cream cones, and spoiling his grand-dogs with hand-cut apples and club crackers. On Sunday mornings, you could often find Don walking through a car lot in Sandy, inspecting all the new arrivals. At one point in his career, Don drove one of the car carriers that delivered those new vehicles, even backing them off the trailer and onto the lots—one of the more dangerous duties he shouldered, always without complaint.
Don and Beverly also went on a series of adventures in their retired years, attending country concerts, signing up for bus tours, and looking for historic trains to ride. Don’s love for trains rivaled his love for cars, but both were eclipsed by his love for his grandchildren, who will always remember his crisp button-down shirts worn with cowboy boots for fancy occasions, and his sweatshirts with the sleeves cut off for everyday. They’ll remember his love for classic rock and country music, the glider loveseat on his patio, his bright yellow truck, the wooden rubber band guns he carved for them and their friends, his homespun wisdom and old timey aphorisms (something about a bear and some buckwheat), and his artistry with a well-placed swear word.
Don was a man of few words, but he had a ready laugh—an unforgettable laugh. And you could see how much you meant to him just by the look in his eyes when he’d greet you. We all look forward to seeing that look again someday.
- Survived By
- Travis Lucas, Son
- Beverly Lucas, Wife
- Karste Lucas, Daughter
- Lynsey Kemp, Daughter
- Jennifer Lucas, Daughter
- Magen Kuddes, Granddaughter
- Carson Kuddes, Grandson
- Eric Johnson, Grandson
- Cameron Johnson, Grandson
- Conrad Lucas, Grandson
- Zachary Walker, Grandson
- Riley Walker, Granddaughter
- Keira Lucas, Granddaughter
- Wyatt Lucas, Grandson
- William Houston, Brother-in-Law
- Marian Lyman, Sister-in-Law
- Preceded in Death By
- Charles Elias Lucas, Father
- Alma Lauritze Hansen, Mother
- Kenny Lucas, Brother
- Bob Lucas, Brother
- Rosemary Fawson, Sister
- Willy Lucas, Brother
- Wally Lucas, Brother
Life Story Info
Cause of Death
Religion and Beliefs
- Korean War
High SchoolWest High School
Whoever wrote his obituary did a fantastic job. So wonderful to learn more of my neighbor since 1972. I used to be his home teacher for a few years. Always felt welcome. I was surprised he was 91. He never looked even close to that age. Even before he had a lawn service take care of his lawn it always looked great. I can still picture him either driving his truck or riding his three wheeler.
We love this beautiful tribute for our Uncle Don! What an amazing and wonderful life!
Thank you for sharing the life photos, and life history. We so appreciated seeing them, documenting the incredible things he accomplished in his life.
We are grateful for your great family.
May you all be blessed with peace and comfort in your loss.
Karen (Fawson) and Dee Johnson and Family
USS Bairoko (CVE-115)
Don enters the Navy
Don and Beverly's Wedding
Don and Beverly's parents at their wedding reception
Don with his daughter Karste
IML Freight Inc.
Yellow Freight Co.
Don and his family