On Dec. 15, 2023, John David Luce, Sr. died peacefully in his home. He was 69 years old.
John is survived by his wife Lou Ann Luce of Swanton, Ohio; his children, Stacy (Brian) Bortel, Tatum (David) Lenavitt, Jeremy Bellner, Nathan (Allison) Luce, and John Luce, Jr.; and his faithful dog, Mishka. John was also called “papa” by his ten grandchildren, Devin, Austin, Jacob, Riley, Ashley, Ethan, Audrey, Eleanor, Lola, and Madeleine. He was preceded in death by his father, Robert W. Luce; mother, Eleanor Luce; brother, Norman Luce; brother, Robert Luce, Jr.; son, Keith Bellner; and golden retrievers, Sadie and Reggie.
John Luce, Sr. was born on August 29, 1954 in Toledo, Ohio. He attended Swanton High School and graduated from Michigan Technological University with a degree in Forestry.
John married the love of his life, Lou, in 1979 in a ceremony at Mallard Lake. His love for Lou and hers for him remained strong and true every day through 44 years of marriage. The union of these soulmates created a family with six kids that rivaled the Brady Bunch. Of all John’s accomplishments, it was his family that brought him the most pride and joy. His lessons on kindness toward people, respect for nature, and appreciation of music were delivered consistently over his entire life through honest conversation, dad jokes, and understanding glances.
John had two careers that defined his work life. For 22 years, he served as a Park Ranger for the Toledo Metroparks with most of his service at Oak Openings and Side Cut. John was a steward for nature and he thrived in his role as a ranger. He was known to regularly identify tree and plant species and advocate for animals. His time at the parks also led to his recounting thrilling law enforcement stories to his family at the dinner table.
In 1980, after reading the article, “Becoming a Chimney Sweep,” in Mother Earth News, John began what would become his next career and a thriving family business. For 43 years he grew Luce’s Chimney & Stove Shop. His determination to do things “the right way” and his integrity became the backbone of his business and Luce’s quickly became the leading hearth service company in the area. He employed his wife, sons, daughters, family friends, and dozens of others who all came to mirror his work ethic, positivity, and honesty.
It’s impossible to know John without understanding his profound love for music. This came early as his dad, Bob Luce, known locally as Bob Mason, played guitar for a range of popular bands. He fondly recalled walking out on stage when his dad played with Loretta Lynn. In high school, John took up the drums and joined his first band, The Back Door. He continued to play the drums his entire life. He continued to drum and tap on anything and everything his entire life.
Music stirred his soul and in 1997 he returned to the band life forming Flashback with Ray Walter and Mike Yeager. Years later he founded the iconic Harley Packer Band with Mike Buck, Bill Gross, and Chris Shutters, to be joined later by John Purdy. He loved classic rock, listening to the blues, and seeing his idols play live. John loved to share the time the HPB opened for Eddie Money at Party in the Park in downtown Toledo, or the concerts he saw, like Savoy Brown at The Park in North Baltimore, Ringo Starr in Windsor, and his last concert, Mark Farner of Grand Funk in Holland, Michigan.
John's appreciation and respect for the outdoors matched his passion for music. He took great pride in the natural habitat he created on his property. He walked it daily and canoed his pond often, always with his dogs at his side. He loved teaching his kids and grandkids about nature and how we need to care for it. He also loved traveling and fulfilled a lifelong dream of he and Lou’s by going to Alaska with his entire family.
And, no summation of John Luce would be complete without a mention of the Green Bay Packers. From his decked-out man cave and gameday traditions like making sure the Packer flag is flying straight, to visiting his second home on the front porch of Lambeau field, John lived for the green and gold. Bart Starr was basically part of the family. HIs childhood friend, Mike Swick, even dressed up as Vince Lombardi on a trip to Green Bay and was asked to meet the Lombardi family and attend the Packer parade.
Sundays at Nana’s and Papa’s were sacred and the family always gathered. John competed in backyard football games, which in recent years evolved into pickleball games, and watched the Packers game. Chants of, “Go Pack Go!” were sure to be heard throughout the house. And, managing his fantasy team, The Mighty Sweeps, was also “serious business” as he would say. His league of 20 years consisted of his closest family and friends. The Sweeps held the coveted trophy high in 2004, 2011, 2016, 2018.
John David Luce, Sr. was a great man. His achievements can be measured in the lives he touched and the kind words spoken by those he knew. He will be deeply missed.
A visitation for John is scheduled for Friday, December 22nd from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm at Weigel Funeral Home in Swanton.
The service will start at 12:00 (noon) in the funeral home, and will be immediately followed by a graveside burial ceremony at Swanton Cemetery. A celebration of life will follow at EJ Ritter Event Hall.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Fulton County Humane Society.