Photography

Gilbert Francis Lutz

April 20, 1927 ~ January 5, 2024 (age 96) 96 Years Old

Gilbert Lutz Obituary

Gilbert Francis Lutz, 96, left this world better than he found it. The son of Alsatian and German immigrants Paul Peter Lutz and Paula Schreiber, from whom he learned a strong work ethic, careful finances, and the value of education. An 18-year-old 90 Day wonder in the U.S. Army Pacific theater in WWII, he separated as a First Lieutenant in the Red Star 6th Division, 24th Infantry regiment, 1st Battalion in 1947.

Gilbert leveraged the GI Bill into multiple degrees at MIT. He served as secretary to the school’s fledgling science fiction club, whose first two speakers were Frederick Pohl and newly minted Ph.D., Isaac Asimov.

He married Helen Laura Mann and embarked on a career in engineering, ending with patents on movement of nuclear waste. Three children were born to them. In 1984, he married Mary Edminister LoCascio and gained three stepchildren.

Brilliance and accomplishments aside, he was best at being a dad. A lifelong science fiction buff, Gilbert introduced his children to astronomy and the power of imagination. Warner & Swasey astronomical lectures and glimpses through its telescope inspired the next generation to look up and watch the skies. Long before “lists of things you should teach your children before they leave home,” he hit every item and more, all with a healthy dose of philosophy. When asked if he could do barrel rolls in his 1947 Stinson, he replied, “you can do anything, once.”

Gilbert’s passions were family, flying, sailing, canoeing, biking, and reading. Since the 1960s he wrote patient letters to legislators demanding the end of double taxation. For decades he and wife Mary volunteered at the West Geauga County Library in Chesterland, Ohio.

Gilbert rarely shared wartime memories, but that changed when a grandson moved to Daegu where Gilbert was stationed in 1946. His family learned that on his arrival at Pohang, Gilbert was met dockside by 25 caskets, men who ran out of alcohol at a party and substituted ethylene glycol. He told of the barracks fire where, running to save papers and grabbing clothes as he passed, he learned to always hang all hangers in the same direction. Another officer rushed upstairs through flames to save his footlocker by throwing it out the window…full of prized liquor. A captain proposed to move two Quonset huts by tying them together floor to floor and rolling them down a hill. Most memorable was the uncanny intuition that caused Gilbert to stop his sergeant’s headlong night drive at the crest of a hill. Walking to the top, they viewed the bridge that wasn’t there. Locals had taken it all for firewood.

Gilbert was rock solid calm in emergencies. The time the plane’s engine quit on takeoff. The time the oil line burst in flight. The head-on accident with the whole family in the car. In his eighties, balancing on the edge of his speeding sailboat to trim a sail. He was the embodiment of the Greatest Generation.

In his last hours messages reached him from around the world, including his sister’s greeting, a grandson’s German prayer, two grandchildren’s musical animation, and great-grandchildren singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

Gilbert is predeceased by his parents, stepdaughter Orsola, and step-grandson Kevin. He outlived many friends, including most of his “old pilots” group. His legacy lives in his survivors: his widow, his first wife, son Roald (Suzanne), daughters Melinde (Don) and Seabright, five grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, step-children Tom and Annie, his sister Alice, cousin Gilbert (Carol), three nieces, and much loved and invaluable aide, Diamond. It was his wish that there be no service. Donations in his memory may be made to Hospice of the Western Reserve, https://www.hospicewr.org.

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