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Former Newtown fire chief remembered for his service

October 3, 2018

NEWTOWN — The national anthem echoed through the halls of St. Rose of Lima Church Wednesday and hands laid on heavy hearts as the community mourned former Fire Chief Michael Lucas.

Lucas, a former member of the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue, died last Friday at the age of 92. Those who knew him said Lucas remained active in the fire department and the community until his final days.

“He left this world a significantly better place than when he came,” said Lucas’ nephew, Steven Lucas, who offered the eulogy during the funeral services. “We are all better off for knowing him. The world needs more people like Michael.”

Lucas first joined the fire department in 1946, shortly after returning from his service with the U.S. Army during World War II. A member of an infantry division, he participated in battles in both France and Germany including the Battle of the Bulge, a turning point for the war and the deadliest battle for U.S. forces.

“Maybe that’s why he was such a kind and gentle soul because of everything he had seen in his younger days,” Steven Lucas recalled. “We are all just glad that he made it home and was able to marry the love of his life, Josephine, who he always affectionately called sweetie pie.”

Lucas described his uncle as a ray of sunshine that could break through the cloudiest of days and shine love on those who needed it most. He was a man who was always willing to strike up a conversation with strangers and who was beloved by all who knew him, Steven Lucas said.

“He was the kind of man who led a life of service,” he said. “First in the army and then in the fire department. He even rode as Santa on the fire truck well into his 80s.”

Michael Lucas was also active at St. Rose of Lima, sitting in the same corner pew for every Sunday mass. During the holiday season, it was he who would assemble the nativity scene.

“He gave so much to so many because that’s the kind of person he was,” said Monsignor Robert Weiss. “He was a man who never walked away from God and served as a wonderful example for all of us. He was so prominent in the lives of so many.”

Lucas served in the fire department for more than 60 years and was the assistant fire chief for more than 15 years before becoming chief of the department in 1975. During his time with the department, they opened their second headquarters and purchased their first ladder truck.

Lucas’s coffin was draped in the American flag as he left the church he loved for the last time. Members of the fire department in their full dress uniforms saluted their former chief with white-gloved hands.

“Michael risked his life for our freedom and for our country,” Weiss said. “And he lived like that until the very end. He would give everything up of himself for others. It’s a powerful example we should all try to follow.”

dperrefort@newstimes.com

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