William Henry Luckmann

January 15, 1926February 14, 2021

William “Bill” Henry Luckmann, World War II veteran, originally from Cape Girardeau, Missouri and long-time resident of Champaign, Illinois died on February 14, 2021, in Peoria, Illinois. He was 95.

William H. Luckmann, during the course of his long career, was a Professional Scientist at the Illinois Natural History Survey, Professor of Entomology in the School of Life Sciences, Professor and Head of the Office of Agricultural Entomology in the College of Agriculture, and Head of the Center for Agricultural Entomology at the Illinois Natural History Survey from 1965 through 1984. He was actively involved in research programs during this period of time and mentored both graduate students and post doctorates. His work contributed greatly to advances in integrated pest management in field and vegetable crops. Upon his retirement, an endowment, William H. Luckmann Award for Student Research in Applied Entomology, was established to support student attendance and presentation of research at scientific meetings.

William Henry Luckmann was born on January 15, 1926, in Cape Girardeau, Missouri to William August Luckmann and Leonora Ochs. He was their only child.

In 1943, while still in high school, Luckmann spent the summer as a solo fire lookout on Strawberry Mountain in Eastern Oregon. This experience shaped Bill for the rest of his life. In 1944, after graduating from Cape Central High School, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and trained as a navigator. WW II ended before he saw action.

After the war, he attended the University of Missouri on the GI Bill and earned a B.S. degree in agriculture in 1949. While there he took a general education course in entomology and fell in love with the subject. He went on to receive advanced degrees in entomology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign: an M.S. in 1951 and PhD in 1956, with an appointment as entomologist in 1959. He titled his PhD dissertation “Corn rootworm pest management in canning sweet corn.”

During the summers of 1947 and 1948, he was employed in the research department of California Packing Corps (Del Monte), in Rochelle, Illinois. While there, he met June Myers Kepner. They were married for 71 years.

Luckmann had an international reputation in Integrated Pest Management. In 1972, Luckmann and Robert Lee Metcalf authored and edited Introduction to Insect Pest Management, which has seen 28 editions.

As an advocate for natural pest control, Luckmann traveled the world, attending conferences and mentoring other entomologists. He was especially proud of consulting work he did in India and Iran.

Luckmann enjoyed mentoring scores of graduate students, from North America and around the world. He often entertained foreign entomologists while they visited and studied at the University of Illinois. A graduate student honored Luckmann by naming a newly described insect after him: Caliothrips luckmanni Wilson, a species of Thrips, collected in Jabalpur, India from mango leaves.

After retiring, Bill and June spent 25 years experiencing the wild outdoors. They loved visiting the National Parks and were known for their camping adventures on roads less traveled. Luckmann was an expert fisherman. He loved hunting and fishing with his sons and friends at a cabin in Southern Illinois. He was beloved and skilled as a storyteller. He was a devoted family man who took great pride in his children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

He is survived by his wife, June, of 71 years, and five children: Charles (Susan Specter) Luckmann, Bellingham, WA; Nancy (Curtis) Glass), Orr, MN; Jill (Robert) Musselman, Toulon, IL; Carol (Mark) Parrish, Monmouth, IL; and John (Rebecca), Luckmann, Columbus, IN. He is also survived by 14 grandchildren and 26 great grandchildren. His life will be celebrated with friends and family at a later date.

Donations in his memory can be made to “William H. Luckmann Entomology for the Ages” fund. Mail checks payable to the UI Foundation to: The University of Illinois Foundation • Harker Hall • 1305 West Green Street • Urbana, IL 61801 notating the William H. Luckmann Entomology for the Ages fund.


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William Henry Luckmann

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