Tribute to Elmo R. Laucks W8III
1917 - 1984

Elmo was licensed in 1936 and was Chief Radio Officer for Capital Airlines. He was a popular person in his comunity in Sault St. Marie, Michigan.

Please read his tribute by W8SU!

 

 

 

My name is David Allen, and I am the grandson of Elmo R. Laucks (W8III). I recently did a google search on my grandfather’s name and came across the tribute page that you did for him on hamgallery.com Thank you for taking the time to write your tribute of him—it was a nice surprise to see that he is fondly remembered even after all of these years.

My grandpa was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie along the St. Mary’s River. He actually grew up on a houseboat along the river because his father worked at Kibby’s Dock, which was near where the Pullar Ice Arena is today. The owner of the dock was Elmo Kibby, and my great-grandparents named my grandpa in honor of him. My great-grandfather worked on the tugboat Favorite and used to help pilot ships up and down the St. Mary’s River to navigate the rapids on their way to and from the locks.

Growing up in the 1920s & 30s, my grandpa had a passion for playing sports (baseball, basketball, hockey, and football) and learning about the “new” technology of wireless radio. I believe that he taught himself how to key Morse code as a teenager. He the oldest of five children (three brothers and a sister), and he suddenly became the “man-of-the-house” at age 16 when his father died in 1933. My grandpa got a job working nights in a bakery to support his family and spent his days completing his high school education. One of his teachers had mercy on him and let my grandpa sleep during their class because they knew that he had been up all night working to take care of the family. My grandpa graduated from Sault Area High School in 1935.

My grandpa met his wife (my grandma) Bernice through one of his co-workers at the bakery. His co-worker was dating the cousin of my grandma, and that’s how they got to know each other. My grandpa and grandma were married in 1940. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942 and served as a Chief Warrant Officer at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina before being sent to the South Pacific to fight. Thankfully he survived World War II with no major wounds.

After the war, my grandpa and grandma returned to the Soo and started a family. My uncle (Richard) was born during the war, and my mom (Linda) was born in 1947. He built a house in the Osborne subdivision outside the Soo just off US-2, where he had his radio shack. My grandpa worked at the local airport as the Chief Radio Operator for Capitol Airlines and Trans-Canada Airlines. That’s why his calling card had the Capital Airlines plane on it.

The family moved into town in 1960 and he and my grandma lived in the home on Kimball Street until his death in 1984. He got a job working for the Federal Aviation Administration, and he was responsible for making sure that radio beacons were working properly for nearby airports and Air Force Base.

My grandpa was passionate about his family, his amateur radio hobby, and his commitment to youth sports, serving as a coach, assistant, statistician for many local Little League teams and the Soo High athletic department. He was the pitching coach for the Soo High baseball team all the way up to the end of his life, and he was known as being as much as a friend and mentor to his players as he was a coach. There is an annual award that is presented in his honor at Soo High to an outstanding student-athlete.

My grandpa had his radio shack in the basement of his house on Kimball, and there were three tall antenna towers outside. He talked to people from all over the world, and I have many memories of hearing voices coming through the crackling speaker as he talked with other HAM enthusiast who were thousands of miles away. He was very active in his local amateur radio club and was always helping anybody who had an interest in it, whether it was helping fix something that was broken, helping them obtain new gear, or helping them learn how to do it. He also used his radio to help people, such as foreign exchange students who were calling home, victims of the earthquake in Alaska in the 1960s, and the crew of the replica Viking ship Hjemkomst that sailed from Duluth, Minnesota, to Oslo, Norway, in the early 1980s.

Although the tribute mentioned my grandpa having a “remote metal building” on US-2, my mom tells me that building belonged to his friend Harvey Ball (W8FYX). My grandpa’s radio shack was in the basement of his home.

My grandpa retired from the FAA in 1975 (the year I was born), and he spent the rest of his life enjoying his radio hobby and coaching and assisting with Little League teams, high school teams, and helping out the athletic department of Lake Superior State College (now Lake Superior State University). He was honored by the Sault Area Little League when they named a baseball diamond after him shortly before he died. He passed away at age 66 on January 7, 1984.

My grandma Bernice was by his side for 44 years and continued to live in the Soo until the late 1990s. She moved to Redford (in metro-Detroit) to be close to my family as she got older. She died in April 2008 at age 89. Both my grandma and grandpa are buried at Oaklawn Chapel Gardens near Sault Ste. Marie.

 

Tribute and QSL Courtesy of W8SU
Info & Photos courtesy of Elmo's grandson David Allen


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