Joe Luckey was born in Alabama on New Year’s Eve 1928. After seven years in an orphanage there, he was transferred to the Sisters of St. Joseph Orphanage in Erie. Joe enjoyed six years there before moving in with his mother and grandparents in Sharon, Pennsylvania.
He then spent three years in the military as an assistant to an Army Chaplain. After one year working at Erie’s General Electric, he enrolled at Gannon College in 1952. After his first year his funds ran low, and Fr. Nash and Dr. Wherle asked Joe to become the college’s maintenance man. Since 1953, he had worked full-time in the maintenance department, had lived in 15 different locations on campus, and had assisted Gannon community members in a variety of ways.
There were few Gannon alumni who didn’t know Joe (or whom Joe didn’t know). He had serenaded students, faculty, and visitors with his songs from the 1930s and 1940s, amazingly knowing all the words to the songs, welcomed new, homesick students, and built stages and booths for student events. And for more than thirty years, Christmas time at Gannon had meant seeing Joe Luckey dressed up as Santa Claus, spreading cheer and goodwill to all.
Alumni from the 1960s and 1970s remember Joe for his famous theater pipe organ, which he bought from the old Shea Theater in 1968 and spent several years and several thousand dollars fixing and restoring before he donated the organ to Gannon in 1976. Joe remained a major force in the national theater organ community for over thirty years. He was instrumental in the founding of the Erie Theater Organ Society and served as president.
Each year during the Founder’s Day Awards Ceremony, Joe presented a desiring Gannon student with the Joe Luckey Award for dedication to the University. In 2000, Joe was honored with the Archbishop Gannon Medal of Distinction; and in 2003 he established the Joe Luckey Seminarian Endowed Scholarship.
Joe had a half sister, Lynne Adams, and her husband Don, in California, and a special relationship with the Henry Langmyer ’55 family.
Mr. Luckey passed away in January of 2011.
(Published prior to 2009)