We honor the humble soul of Larry Luke, who passed October 21, 2018 at age 61, after enduring 2 years of indignities from ALS(Lou Gehrig’s Disease). He is now welcomed into the loving arms of his Creator.
Please join Larry’s family and friends for calling hours on Saturday (October 27) from 12 to 2 p.m. or 5 to 7 p.m. at the Young Funeral Home, Williamson, N.Y. A celebration of his life will be held, where else, in the gym at Williamson High School on Sunday (October 28) at 3 p.m.
Because Larry preferred his blossoms on the trees, in lieu of flowers, please pay it forward with an act of service for someone in need. Donations to the Larry Luke memorial scholarship honoring student service may be made to Larry Luke Service Scholarship in ? Williamson High School, P.O. Box 900, Williamson, NY 14589.
Larry Kenneth Luke was born on July 12, 1957 to salt-of-the-earth parents Ray and Liz Luke in Williamson, N.Y. He grew up on Wendale Farm, so named for his deceased brother Wendell. There he learned to be a steward of the environment, problem solve mechanical challenges, and contribute to family and community. He graduated from Williamson High School in 1975, president of his class, avid trumpet player, and prominent Wayne County basketball player. Next, he attended Alfred Tech to major in Agricultural Engineering and play on the basketball team. At 6’8″, he averaged 11 ppg as a power forward. Not many know that he drove 2 hours home every fall and spring weekend to work for his father on the farm.
After college graduation, Larry bought the apple farm from his parents and dedicated himself to improving the land. He designed trellis-plantings to maximize land space and branched out with other fruits such as nectarines, apricots, plums, quince, and grapes. In 1987, he planted a memorial block of elderberries, to honor his father for his favorite pie. For a decade, he became sought after as one of the only growers of cultivated elderberries in the state. Larry’s even-keel temperament was perfectly suited for the unpredictabilities of farming and weather. He was often consulted for inventive abilities in his shop, able to design and build whatever device could not be bought. Larry loved farming and enjoyed educating friends or strangers about its aspects such as organic vs traditional or the lineage of various apples.
Starting in 1980, Larry played in local basketball leagues around Rochester. He was known in the hoops community for deadeye marksmanship, an intimidating presence in the lane, and unselfish passing. In 2015 and 2017, he represented New York State in the National Senior Games in Cleveland and Minneapolis. There, with teammates from around the state, he helped the teams win gold medals in various divisions. Fellow ballers describe Larry as a selfless teammate and fierce competitor, a gentleman on and off the court. Plus, he often brought a bag of apples to share with teammates.
In 1983, Larry began coaching the varsity girls basketball team at his alma mater Williamson High School. His first year, the team went 1-13; by 1989 the girls were the Class C number one seed for two years in a row. A natural teacher, Larry nurtured his players in both skills and citizenship. They won the county sportsmanship trophy multiple times. His former players remember him for his encouraging manner, an “aw shucks” humility, and a passionate belief in their talents. They honored him with a reunion in July 2018 to gift him with the “Golden Sneaker Award.” In the 2013-14 and 2017-18 seasons, Larry coached or assisted with the varsity boys basketball teams, stepping up when needed.
In 1989, Larry became the Director of the Williamson Township Youth Committee, later renamed the Williamson Recreation Committee. In this role, he gave back to his community what he felt he himself had been given. He organized sports and summer camp programs, as well as hosting and emceeing the annual Williamson Apple Blossom Pageant. He is remembered by decades of young basketball players as their first referee, for he officiated rec games for almost three decades. His philosophy as a referee was to educate them about the game he loved and hopefully build their confidence.
Larry lived an authentic life, which is to say that he never thought too highly of himself and always had time to chat. He embodied the Golden Rule and avoided speaking ill of others at all costs. His kind and selfless demeanor made a lasting impression on us all. Although ALS stripped Larry of his physical talents, it never touched his patience, grace, unpretentiousness, or love. And it was with love that he passed from the material world to the heavenly. We thank the Strong Hospital ALS Clinic team for their help in navigating this brutal disease. He would add that he was “the luckiest man on the face of the earth” because of his “lovely bride,” Diane, and their wonderful children Rayanne and Andy, as well as Andy’s fiancé, Diana Cervantes Nava.
He is survived by his devoted wife, Diane Luke; children Rayanne and Anderson; sisters Carolyn (Keith) Benjamin and Pene Luke.
Predeceased by parents Ray and Liz Luke; brothers Daryl and Wendell Luke.