Captain Thomas R. Luce, 86 of Perryville, MD, flew west on Saturday, May 26, 2012.
Born in Philadelphia, PA, on October 24, 1925, he was the son of the late Thomas R. Luce, Sr. and the late Charlotte (Thompson) Luce.
Tom graduated from Gerard School for fatherless boys in Philadelphia. His love for flying started at an early age. He joined the Aviation Cadet Program to learn to fly.
In 1943 he transferred to Knox College in Galesburg, IL for aviation classes; later transferring to Santa Ana, CA for pre-flight school. Upon completion, he was sent to Tulare, CA for primary flight training in Stearman Aircraft and then on to Bakersfield for basic flight training in AT6. He graduated as a flight officer from Luke Field in Phoenix, AZ. He attended gunnery school in AJO, CA and then trained in the P51 Mustang.
After the war, he used his GI Bill to obtain his Flight Instructor Certification at the Flying Dutchman Airport in North East Philadelphia. His first job was in Moorestown, NJ instructing students. He continued to instruct at Clementon Airport.
He continued his career with Capitol International Airways flying C-46 cargo airplanes. At Capitol, he then flew charters on Super Connies, DC8s and DC10s, retiring as Captain in 1984.
After retirement, he became a builder of airplanes, building 3 experimental airplanes – a Kit Fox, an Aventura and a Sonic.
He was a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association-Chapter 240, the Quiet Birdmen and the Covenant Lodge, No. 161 AF & AM.
He was married to Betty Luce (nee Painter) and she preceded him in death in 1990. He was also preceded in death by his parents, sister: Florence Neimeyer and a grandson: Robert Luce.
Those left to honor and cherish his memory include: his companion: Luan Wood of Perryville, MD; his 2 children: Robert F. Luce of Florence, NJ and Diane H. Smith (Ernest) of Burlington, NJ; 4 grandchildren: Jeremy Smith, Melody Smith, Shawn Smith (Michelle), Deanna Lewis (Siafa); and 2 great grandchildren.
Visitation for family and friends will be held on Thursday, May 31, 2012 from 10:00 AM until 12:00 Noon at Crouch Funeral Home, P.A., 127 South Main Street, North East, MD.
Graveside services will be held Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 2:00 PM at Lakeview Memorial Park, Cinnaminson, NJ.
Tom was a wonderful man and enjoyed life. He will be missed by many.
Tom, have a safe and happy flight.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to: Shriner’s Hospitals, PO Box 9695, Baltimore, MD 21237.