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Community giant Mildred Lucas dies at 91
• Historian, author, former teacher, ag activist
Grant and Mildred.jpg
Mildred Lucas, seen here at the 2013 dedication of a Ceres school named after her and husband Grant, died on Friday. Grant Lucas, her husband of 64 years, passed away on April 26, 2014. - photo by Jeff Benziger

Mildred Deane Lucas, a Ceres historian who wrote a landmark 1976 history research book and whose name is attached to a newer Ceres elementary school along with her husband Grant Lucas, has passed away.

She died Friday in Modesto at the age of 91.

Mrs. Lucas and her late husband was a hard-working farming couple who grew almonds east of Ceres. A history enthusiast, in 1976 she wrote “From Amber Grain … To Fruited Plain: A History of Ceres, California and its Surroundings” after doing extensive research. It remains the most exhaustive historical account of Ceres.

Mrs. Lucas frequently attended many community affairs, such as the Ceres Chamber of Commerce’s annual Agribusiness Luncheon and Citizen of the Year banquet. Mrs. Lucas herself was the recipient of the “Citizen of the Year” honor in 1979.

In 2013 the Ceres Unified School District named its new dual language academy after the Lucas’s. Mildred had taught third grade at Carroll Fowler Elementary School for many years. Grant served eight years on the very first Ceres Unified School District board of trustees in 1965 and was a member of the Ceres Education Foundation Board.

At the dedication ceremony of Lucas Elementary, Mildred took the microphone and interjected her own brand of humor by stating she couldn’t match her husband’s four-generation upbringing in Ceres but said “I’ve only lived here a mere 63 years.” She commented at the ceremony that “Ceres and its welcoming ways, its clubs, gatherings, neighbors and certainly the schools have made it home for me – much more important than Modesto where I lived when I was growing up.”

Born on Dec. 28, 1926 in Phoenix, Arizona to Thomas J. and Sadie Mae Dowdy. Mildred was a graduate of Modesto High School and San Jose State. She never lost her zest for education and learning. From 1950 onward, she was a timeless advocate for California agriculture.

She leaves behind her sons, Patrick Lucas of Boise, Idaho and Timothy Lucas of San Diego; and eight grandchildren, Brian Lucas, Andrew Lucas, Kevin Lucas, Felicia Lucas, Dianna Goodwin, Lisa Goodwin, Teresa Lucas and Jenna Lucas. She was preceded in death by husband Grant Lucas, her parents, and brother Thomas Manning Dowdy.

Visitation will take place at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at the Ceres Chapel of Franklin & Downs Funeral Home where a funeral will follow at 12 noon. Burial will take place at Ceres Memorial Park following the service.