John D. Luke ’60 died on March 8, 2023, in Lincoln, Massachusetts.
(The following was provided by the Conway Daily Sun on March 20, 2023)
Captain John D. Luke, USN retired, 84, passed away peacefully on March 5, 2023, at Care Dimensions Hospice House in Lincoln, Mass., with his family by his side, following a 10-month battle with cancer. He lived a full and beautiful life.
John was born in Winchester, Mass., and was raised in North Conway, N.H., by his parents, Joseph Henry Luke and Jeanette Munsie Luke. He was the oldest of their three children.
John was an avid skier in his youth at one of the country’s first ski mountains and became a member of the Cranmore Mountain Ski Patrol beginning at age 12. He also started and operated an apple stand in front of his family home, The Homestead.
The World Book Encyclopedia used a photo of John in front of his apple stand as the stock photo regarding apples until well into the 1980s. John played football and baseball, No. 33, for A. Crosby Kennett High School in Conway, N.H., where he graduated in 1956, after being named the school’s most improved student.
He was offered a scholarship to attend Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, by a local benefactor, Mrs. Harvey Dow Gibson, who recognized John’s potential. He graduated from Bowdoin in 1960 with his classmates despite being two classes shy of graduation requirements.
The Academic Dean made a gentleman’s agreement with John to finish those classes at George Washington University after John had been offered a position in Washington, D.C., with N.H. Sen. Norris Cotton. John honored that agreement and completed his studies in the spring of 1961 at GW shortly before being notified of his impending draft into the Army.
John, despite growing up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, was intrigued by the prospect of going to sea and decided to join the Navy. He was commissioned an ensign in the Navy in 1962 via the Officer Candidate School at Newport, R.I.
He overcame chronic seasickness early in his Navy career and went on to serve aboard eight Navy ships at duty stations that included: Long Beach, Calif., San Diego, Calif., Key West, Fla., Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Charleston, S.C., Norfolk, Va., Annapolis, Md., and Washington, D.C.
John learned to speak fluent Vietnamese at the Defense Language Institute at Monterey, Calif., before serving for a year as a liaison officer to the South Vietnamese Navy in Saigon, Vietnam in 1971. He was proud to serve as the commanding officer of the USS Brooke (FFG-1) and the USS Richmond K. Turner (CG-20), “America’s Battle Cruiser,” in the 1980s.
John ended his Navy career as the commanding officer of the Naval Base at Newport, R.I., which included command of the Officer Candidate School, where his naval career began.
John was married to the former Ardith Ann Thompson of Columbus, Ohio, in 1961 and for the duration of his Navy career. They had four children together, all born at different naval bases, and moved the family more than a dozen times during his military career. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1989.
Following retirement from the Navy, John worked as a consultant for Booz-Allen-Hamilton in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for two years before moving to Alexandria, Egypt, in 1994.
His team worked closely with the Egyptian Navy, training their crews in the operation of ships acquired from the U.S. Navy. He held that position until his retirement in 2014.
John met and later married the love of his life, Sahar Ragab, of Alexandria, Egypt, on Feb. 29, 1996. They had two children together and enjoyed a full and active life over the course of their marriage. John and Sahar worked in tandem to support numerous charitable efforts in Alexandria.
John became known in his community as a strong leader who was incredibly gifted at organizing teams, gaining consensus and deploying the unique talents of his people to solve complex problems.
He was an active member of the Cosmopolitan Rotary Club of Alexandria, Egypt, since 1999, where he served twice as chapter president and was a board member for many years.
John was wholeheartedly engaged in a multi-year project to fund and build a home for young street girls in Alexandria. That home is still in operation and provides for the welfare, housing and education of 40 young girls.
John was also particularly supportive of endeavors to provide prosthetics to amputees and organized efforts to raise money for that cause. His association with the Rotary Club led to numerous meaningful friendships in Egypt, France, Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
John volunteered his time serving on the board of trustees of the Schutz American School of Alexandria, Egypt, including two terms as board president, 2002-05, and 2007-13. He was proud of the school’s growth during the time he was associated. The boardroom at Schutz was named in his honor in 2014.
The family must acknowledge John’s love and devotion to the Boston Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins and New England Patriots. He was often up at all hours of the night to watch live from his home in Egypt, sometimes inviting friends to watch the big games.
John Davidson Luke is survived by his wife, Sahar Ragab Luke; his six children, John P. (Anne) Luke of Dunkirk, Md.; Joanna M. Luke (Brad Dawson) of Mebane, N.C.; Bradford T. Luke of Annapolis, Md.; Peter D. (Cynthia) Luke of Las Vegas; Sarah-Luna J. Luke of Washington, D.C.; and Alexander Omar J. Luke of Boston. John is also survived by his sister Patricia Luke Ransom; several nieces and nephews as well as nine grandchildren: Samuel Z. Luke, Margaret A. Luke, Jacob T. Foushee, Luke T. Foushee, Ensign Benjamin H. Luke USN, Pvt. John Q. Luke USMC, Diego Jauregui, Giovanni M. Luke and Leonardo T. Luke.
John had especially close relationships with his sister-in-law and dear friend May Ragab; shipmate and cherished friend, Rear Adm. Alan T. “Blues” Baker, USN retired; Bowdoin College classmate, colleague and friend of more than 60 years, Mr. Robert LeMieux; and his longtime driver, friend, confidant, and protector Mr. Ahmed El Sayed.