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MSP commander loses battle with cancer

March 08, 2002|BY KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Lt. William J. Lucas, commander of the Maryland State Police barracks at Hagerstown, died Wednesday after a year-long battle against cancer. He was 55.

Lucas' colleagues said Thursday he was a compassionate, dedicated leader who loved being a state trooper.

"He cared about his employees and he didn't play favorites with anyone," state police 1st Sgt. Rick Narron said.

Lucas, who won a battle with lung cancer in the 1990s, was diagnosed with a brain tumor about a year ago, Narron said.

Lucas is survived by his wife Sylvia Lucas, three grown children and three grandchildren.

A 29-year veteran of the Maryland State Police, Lucas replaced Lt. Randy Resh as Hagerstown barracks commander on March 7, 2001.

After just a few weeks on his new job, Lucas' brain tumor was diagnosed and he had to go on sick leave, Narron said.

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Narron, who said he considered Lucas a mentor, was named acting barracks commander.

Narron said he was in contact with Lucas at his Middletown, Md., home about twice a week.

As months went by, Lucas' condition deteriorated. Over the last few weeks, retired members of the state police visited with Lucas' family members and spelled them at his bedside, he said.

Narron said he was with Lucas on the day he died and Lucas' last words to him were, "I'll see you tomorrow, Bill."

A 1964 graduate of St. Maria Goretti High School, Lucas spent four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving in Vietnam. After his discharge in 1968, he enrolled in the University of Maryland and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in 1972. He graduated from the Maryland State Police Academy the following year.

Washington County Sheriff Charles Mades said he can remember Lucas coming up to him at a social event in the 1960s and announcing he intended to become a state trooper.

Mades, who was a state trooper, later personally handed him an application. Mades said he was proud of Lucas as he progressed through the ranks of the state police.

"He did an outstanding job and was respected by a lot of people," Mades said.

Lucas "was an excellent police officer. He had all the attributes you'd like to see in cops," Hagerstown City Police Capt. Charles Summers said.

"He'll be missed here in Western Maryland," Summers said.

Over the course of Lucas' career, he was stationed at at least six barracks. He was assistant barracks commander in Hagerstown from 1994 to 1997.

In an interview with The Herald-Mail after taking over as Hagerstown's barracks commander, Lucas said a police officer must have common sense and compassion.

The diversity of the job was what made him stay on despite his health problems, he said.

"He loved coming to work each day. He wasn't ready to retire," Narron said.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Stauffer Funeral Home in Frederick. The viewing is today from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The funeral will be Saturday at 1 p.m.

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