SooToday received the following notice from Northwood Funeral Home about Dr. Lou Lukenda, a long-time fixture in the ownership group of the Ontario Hockey League’s Soo Greyhounds, Lukenda was inducted into the Sault Ste. Marie hockey hall of fame in 2013 and supported local sports for many years.
Lou's family has set up an open Facebook group to share memories of him.
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Dr. Louis Lukenda on May 4, 2017 at Sault Area Hospital, surrounded by his loving family. Lou will be profoundly missed by his wife of 62 years and soulmate Mae (nee Devlin), his seven children, sixteen grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren: Suzanne (David) Brescacin, Becky (Jeff Brown) and Megan; Janice Lukenda Jordan Grant and Liane (Warren Toews); Betty Lou (David) Mancuso, Mat (Erica), Jessie (Tim Rogers), Kirsty (Scott), Madison and Bryce Carson; Sandra Harding (late Norm), Bailey (Dave Woodcock), Tom (Cahleigh Felix); Judi (Doug) Way, Caitlin (Justin), Cole and Ellie Henkusens, Gregory Way, Toni-Lynne Lukenda, Devon and Alison Cavanagh, and Timothy (Mary-Lynne) Lukenda, Carter, Macauley and Cooper.
Lou was born on Jan.3, 1929 in the little village of Tihaljina, Croatia, to Ante and Eva Lukenda,and had four siblings: Michael (predeceased), (Anne); Winnifred (late Walter), John (Violet) and Joseph (predeceased), (late Helen). Lou’s family emigrated to Sault Ste. Marie when he was seven years old and had a very humble upbringing. Following in his parents’ ways, Lou grew up to be a very hardworking, ambitious, optimistic and big-hearted man.
He attended Sault Collegiate where he met Mae Devlin, the love of his life.
A gifted student and athlete, Lou attended Lake State University for his Undergrad degree and University of Toronto Dental School where he was captain of the Basketball team.
He paid for his schooling by working at Algoma Steel, on the Great Lakes freighters and a variety of other jobs.
He set up his dental practice first on Albert St. and then at the Professional Place on Queen St. where he practised dentistry until 1990, joined by his brother John, Dr. Simin Payendah, and his best friends Dr. Michael Nanne, Dr. Nilo Fabbro, Dr. George Shunock and the late Dr. Don Santana.
He retired from dentistry in 1992 but continued to go into the office daily up until shortly before his death to manage his many entrepreneurial and philanthropic interests.
He thoroughly enjoyed meeting for lunch with the dental gang throughout the years at nearby restaurants (where they would play a game to determine who paid the bill- Lucky Lou rarely lost). Lou’s passion for education was lifelong, as he was chairman of the Board of Education from 1969-1974 and strongly supported his children and grandchildren as well as countless other people in their educational pursuits through bursaries and scholarships.
Lou’s interest in athletics also continued throughout his life. He was involved in many sports teams at the YMCA and in the community and loved to watch sports, especially his beloved Detroit Tigers and Notre Dame football games. Eventually he became an owner and enthusiastic supporter of the Soo Greyhounds. We cannot imagine the games without him.
“Lanky Lou from the Soo” was exceptionally proud of his hometown of Sault Ste. Marie and his involvement and generosity to our city is legendary. Besides his involvement in education and athletics, Lou was very involved in the healthcare field and opened the first nursing home in the Sault, Tendercare, in 1970. From 1990-2007 he was founder and chairman of Extendicare nursing homes throughout Canada and Michigan and made his office in Sault Michigan by restoring the historic Federal building (now City Hall).
Lou was exceptionally proud of his hometown and his strong involvement and generosity to our community is legendary. He has been a benefactor for Algoma University, Soo College, and Lake Superior State University; Sault Area Hospital (and a member and chairman of the General Hospital Board of Directors from 1977-1990); member and Past Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus; and was instrumental in getting the Essar Centre built, to name just a few of his accomplishments.
Lou has received many awards including The Golden Jubilee Medal of Canada, The Medal of Merit for Sault Ste. Marie, The Diocesan Medal of Honour and has been inducted into both the Basketball and Hockey Hall of Fame locally.
Despite all of this, Lou remained a very grounded, humble and gentle man. Though very successful and well-travelled, Lou loved his family, enjoyed his cottage at Pte. Louise which he thought was “The most beautiful place on earth”, swimming in Lake Superior, boating misadventures, winters in Fort Myers Beach, a good game of cribbage, Tim Horton’s coffee, Mae’s muffins and caramel corn.
Lou’s life motto was “Faith, family and friends”.
He loved God, supported the Catholic Church, was a generous benefactor for Our Lady of the Highways Croatian Church as well as of Mount St. Joseph and St. Mary’s College where his children and grandchildren attended, helped keep the Cross lit for many years, as well as donating to many other charities and organizations.
He was the greatest dad and grandpa in the world to his family and will be missed by many friends, relatives, business associates, employees and acquaintances who grew to love Lou as we did.
You will always be our sunshine.
Friends of Lou may gather at Northwood Funeral Home Cremation and Reception Centre (942 Great Northern Road 705-945-7758) on Sunday evening from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Funeral mass will be held at Precious Blood Cathedral on Monday, May 8, 2017 at 12:00 noon, Father Hamish CurrieFather Hamish Currie officiating. Donations to William’s Foundation, Sick Kids Hospital, the United Way or another charity of your choice would be appreciated by the family. www.northwoodfuneral.com
That Man is a Success
Who has lived well,
laughed often and loved much;
Who has gained the respect
of intelligent men and the love of children;
Who has filled his niche
and accomplished his task;
Who leaves the world better than he found it,
whether by an improved poppy or a perfect poem or a rescued soul;
Who never lacked appreciation of earth's beauty
or failed to express it;
Who looked for the best in others
and gave the best he had.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Read more SooToday coverage of the passing of Dr. Lou Lukenda here