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Long time farmer Grant Lucas dies at 91
Grant Lucas
Grant Lucas, 1922-2014 - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Grant Talmage Lucas, a long-time Ceres farmer, former Ceres school board trustee and member of a pioneer Ceres family, has died at the age of 91.

Mr. Lucas passed away on April 26 at the Alexander Cohen Hospice House in Hughson with family members surrounding him following a brief hospital stay.

Grant Lucas was well-known in the Ceres community as being named a past Citizen of the Year and the namesake of Lucas Elementary School along with his wife, Mildred Lucas.

Born on August 1, 1922 in a Modesto hospital, Grant was the son of Garland T. "Doc" Lucas and Irva Schrider Lucas. Grant grew up in Ceres where his grandfather Newell Lucas settled in 1908. His only absence from Ceres was to train in the Army and serve in World War II.

A 1940 graduate of Ceres High School, Grant was drafted into the Army while attending Modesto Junior College. After basic training and because of his interest in chemistry, he was sent to the Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah where he was involved in dangerous experimental chemical warfare. He traveled to southern states to lecture in his superior officers' place as ordered and at military locations and colleges. For a time he also attended classes at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

Grant decided to join the Airborne Infantry and after jump school training set sail for France shortly before D-Day. On the way to France his ship was torpedoed. He, with other survivors, made it to the Azores then to England and then to France to arrive after D-Day. Lucas made about 20 jumps as a paratrooper, dropping into France and Belgium to help fight the Nazi advancement in Europe.

After his European duty ended, Mr. Lucas was ordered back to the U.S. to be sent on a mission to help fight the Japanese in the Pacific theatre. On his way to California by train, however, peace was declared and Grant was discharged from the Army.

He returned to Ceres and changed his career choice from that of the chemist to farmer working alongside his father. Grant gradually acquired his own farmland which he tended to until he was 80 years of age.

Always active in the community and its civic groups, Mr. Lucas was active in the Ceres Lions Club, Ceres Chamber of Commerce, and served eight years on the very first Ceres Unified School District board of trustees in 1965. He also was a member of the Ceres Education Foundation Board. For many years he enjoyed teaching Ceres third-graders about the history of the U.S. flag and flag etiquette.

Grant also served for many years as a director and chairman of Farm Credit Bank boards locally, regionally and nationally.

In December 1985, Mr. Lucas was honored by Pres. Reagan for his work with Congress and amending the Farm Credit Act.

In December 1987, as arranged by then Senator Pete Wilson, Grant and Mildred were guests of American ambassador Daryl Arnold at a beautiful mansion in Singapore that dated back to the British Empire rule.

Besides farming, Grant continued university studies at San Francisco State on weekends, then later achieved his bachelor's degree as an early graduate of the newly established Stanislaus State University, which was then located on the grounds of the Stanislaus County fair in Turlock. For a time, Mr. Lucas taught part-time at Hughson High School when substitute teachers were scarce.

Mr. Lucas was stowed with the honor of being Ceres Citizen of the Year in 19--. He was also named Agribusiness Man of the Year by the Ceres Chamber of Commerce. Most recently the Ceres Unified School District honored Mr. and Mrs. Lucas with the naming of a new elementary school located on Don Pedro Road just west of Mitchell Road. He had attended the September dedication of the school which is the district's first-ever dual language immersion Academy where students are instructed in both English and Spanish languages.

He later took pleasure in learning that the entrance to Lucas Elementary School is located directly opposite from the site of what was his grandfather's two-story house and Smyrna fig farm.

For many years, Grant was a member of the Society of California Pioneers through his mother's 1849 ancestry of E.G. Hall, a San Francisco merchant and in whose office the society was well-established, was this specially delighted when he inherited the letters Hall wrote back home to his wife in Massachusetts before she joined him in California.

Mr. Lucas is survived by his wife of 64 years, Mildred Lucas of Ceres; his two sons, Patrick (Betty) Lucas of Boise, Idaho, and Timothy Lucas (Cheryl) of San Diego; eight grandchildren, Brian, Kevin, Felicia, Teresa, Andrew, Dianna, Lisa and Jenna; and great-grandchildren Ashton, Cassandra, and Mila. He is also survived by cousins located in Lodi and Santa Cruz.

Private burial was at Ceres Memorial Park. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 10, at the Ceres Chapel of Franklin and Downs at Fifth and Magnolia streets in Ceres.

Remembrances may be sent to Memorial Hospital Foundation, the Alexander Cohen Hospice House, or to any favorite charity.