R. Paul Lucas Jr, 86, of Sanford, passed away on Friday, May 22 at the First Health House in Westend, NC. He was born on July 26, 1933, a son of Rufus Paul Lucas, Sr., and May Snipes Lucas.
Graveside services will be private.
Paul was a lifelong member of the First Baptist Church of Sanford where he was a deacon and a member of the choir for many years. He also played the church organ through his college years.
Paul was a member of Kiwanis, Elks, Seven Seas, Association of Naval Aviators, Railroad Historical Society, the V.F.W., Carolina Blue Squadron and the Lee County Arts Center, just to name a few.
Music, reading, sailing, flying and “fixing things” were some of his favorite activities. His request was to say “he was not an avid golfer”.
He married Carole Foote Lucas who survives and has two sons Paul Lucas III and Scott Lucas, both of Sanford and one daughter Christy L. Carroll (Paul) of Sanford. He has four grandchildren; James, Will, Jessica and Luke Carroll and one great grandchild. Also, he is survived by one brother Manly Lucas (Emily) of Sanford. In addition to his parents he was predeceased by his sister, Mary Ann Lucas.
As a lad, he delivered newspapers for the Sanford Herald and milk for Yarborough’s. During the War he joined Boy Scout Troop 41, was baptized at First Baptist Church Sanford, and led scrap collection drives. In high school (Class of ’51) he played football, clarinet and was in the Glee Club. He studied Civil Engineering at NC State, including R.O.T.C., football, and the Glee Club.
He joined the Navy and became an aviator. He flew the North Atlantic between Newfoundland and The Azores over 100 times aboard a Lockheed Superconstellation while hunting for Russian bombers during the Cold War. He flew a carrier-based Grumman S2 tracker during the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis. From the air, he located and harassed a menacing Russian submarine in a potentially deadly cat and mouse game. He continued flying anti-sub patrols out of Norfolk for over a decade until retiring as a Commander.
As a civil engineer, he became Vice President, bid estimator, surveyor, and project manager for W.L. Jewell General Contractors. Years later, a construction manager for the Shearon Harris Nuclear plant through Daniel Construction. Plant finished, he became nationwide project manager for the Golden Corral. After building 33 Golden Corrals in 17 states, he became State Coordinator and Chief of Recovery Operations for the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management. After retiring he made several missionary trips to Jamaica to build a school for deaf children.