Former student Luckey dies at 83

Robert “Joe” Luckey, a former Gannon student who has served the university for more than 55 years, died Tuesday at age 83.

Luckey enrolled at Gannon College in 1952 after working for one year at Erie’s General Electric. At the request of Fr. Wilfred J. Nash and Dr. Joseph J. “Doc” Wherle, he joined the maintenance department in 1953 – where he worked until his retirement – before earning his degree in 1955.

The Alabama native, who was honored with the Archbishop Gannon Medal of Distinction in 2000, established the Joe Luckey Seminarian Endowed Scholarship three years later.  He also has an award named after him, the Joe Luckey Award, given to a student who demonstrates dedication to the university.

Luckey, remembered by some Gannon alumni for his talent with the pipe organ, was a major force in the national theater organ community for more than 30 years. He was instrumental in the founding of the Erie Theater Organ Society and served as president.

Karla Wludyga, director of public relations and communications and special assistant to the president, said that Luckey was a Gannon fixture for many decades and he will be sadly missed by many alumni, faculty, staff and students.

“Those who knew him will always smile when remembering his antics and legacy at Gannon,” she said.

Cathy Fresch, director of alumni services, had a close relationship with him.

“Though not tall in stature, Joe was very tall among men,” she said. “Joe understood at a very early age how to read people and how to draw the goodness out of each and every one. “

Luckey, who was born on New Year’s Eve 1928, first came to Erie in 1935 after spending seven years in an orphanage in Alabama.

He spent six years in the Sisters of St. Joseph Orphanage before moving in his mother and grandparents in Sharon, Pa.

He then spent three years in the military as an assistant to an Army chaplain.

According to a university document published in 2008, Luckey has a half sister, Lynne Adams, and special relationship with the Henry Langmyer family.


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Editor-in-chief Abby Badach contributed to this story.