WEST FRANKFORT — Don R. Lucas passed away Nov. 6, 2017.
Born, raised, provided, prospered, and now passed, Don Lucas’s life story began, thrived, and ended in West Frankfort. A loving patriarch to his family, a devoted friend and attorney to his community, and a passionate defender of small town governance and the sheer joy in the natural bounty of Southern Illinois.
A believer in Jesus Christ, Don joins his parents, Walter and Kathleen (Stewart) Lucas; a sister, Jeanne (Lucas) Brenner; and brother Walter Lucas in death and like them, leaves a family legacy that continues here in Southern Illinois.
Don is survived by his wife, Joyce (Bonifield); children, Jayne Durham (Lucas), Todd Lucas, Dana Orlando (Lucas), Mike Lucas; and nine grandchildren ranging in ages from 29 to 14, all either completing or in pursuit of college degrees, a legacy Don took great pride in.
Don was a gifted athlete and multiple sports fueled his youth at F.C.H.S. achieving honorable mention to the 1952 Illinois All State Basketball Team. He attended SIU on a track scholarship where academic pursuits led him to both bachelor of science and master of science degrees while teaching government at SIU on a resident teaching fellowship.
After graduating from SIU in 1959, he taught history and coached basketball at Murphysboro and West Frankfort High Schools. Don’s only extended leave from Southern Illinois was to pursue a law degree and teach legal writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, graduating with a Juris Doctor of Law in 1963.
Returning to West Frankfort with Joyce and a young family, Don set out to strike a professional balance of building a personal injury law practice and civic legal contributions. Although Don built a highly successful legal practice, trying cases from coast to coast, he also served as the city attorney for West Frankfort for more than 25 years while in recent years serving as a West Frankfort appointee to the Rend Lake Conservancy Board. In 1964 Don joined other local businessmen in the establishment of The First Community Bank of West Frankfort that proved successful and sustaining and Don served as the bank’s attorney and on its board until it was sold in 1990. The legacy of the bank survives today as First Bank. Don’s prestigious legal career included recognition by numerous County, State, and National Bar and Trial Lawyer Association Memberships and most notable, being awarded by his peers as being a U.S. Distinguished Attorney for more than 30 continuous years on Martidale-Hubbell (the gold standard for attorney ratings on legal ability and ethical standards).
When not attending to family or career, Don pursued adventure through hunting. He and his brother, Wally, started hunting as teenagers and included son, Mike at a (very) young age in a special brotherhood bond that lasted over 66 years and traversed several countries. Although they would travel and climb mountains for big game, Don loved the natural beauty of Southern Illinois. In 1982 Don and Wally purchased land along the Shawnee National Forest and ran Honker Hill Hunting Club for more than 20 years, recognized by the State Legislature as one of the top hunting clubs in Illinois. In 2008 they converted the club to a vineyard, and today Honker Hill Vineyard is a proud member of the Illinois Wine Trail.
Don will be greatly missed by family, friends and regarded by the community he loved to serve. May we share in Don’s love for Shawnee Hills of the Great Planes and the people who call it home.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, in Union Funeral Home in West Frankfort, with Pastor Joey Dunning officiating. Burial will be in the Tower Heights Cemetery in West Frankfort. Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday Nov. 10, at the funeral home and 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, prior to the service.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the SIU Foundation, School of Law or to the Trinity United Methodist Church – West Frankfort. Envelopes will be available and accepted at the funeral home.
Online condolences of sympathy may be made to www.unionfh.com.