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Widow seeks help with Vietnam veteran's funeral

STEDMAN, N.C. — The widow of a Vietnam veteran is turning to the community for help after the death of her husband.

Delbert Guy Lucas was a proud Army veteran who served two tours in Vietnam during a 20-year career that ended in 1977. He died at Womack Army Medical Center last month after battling cancer and other illnesses.

Gloria Lucas, his wife of eight years, said the family was unprepared.

Lucas, 74, had appeared to be in good health until this year, when doctors discovered cancer throughout his body following a bout with pneumonia in March.

His health quickly declined, and he died days after being admitted to Womack in mid-July.

A veteran of the 173rd Airborne, Delbert Lucas thought he was prepared for his death.

Gloria Lucas said although he didn't have life insurance, he often said the government, because of his veteran status, would pay for any costs.

That hasn't been the case.

Delbert Lucas' funeral, which included full military honors, was delayed several days because she had yet to pay the funeral home half of its bill.

Gloria Lucas, who drives a school bus for Mac Williams Middle School, said she's had to pinch pennies while seeking help from her church and others.

Friends were able to contribute $900 to the nearly $5,000 bill. The Army Emergency Relief Fund provided another $1,100.

Now, Gloria Lucas is hoping the Internet can help her raise the rest.

She's raised several hundred dollars on the crowdfunding site gofundme.com.

Officials at Patterson Memorial Funeral Home helped her set up the request, which can be found by searching for "Delbert Lucas" on gofundme.com.

"It's a last resort," Gloria Lucas said from her home in Stedman, where she looked over her husband's military paper and other mementos, including Veterans of Foreign Wars hats, medals and tokens from the American Legion.

"I didn't want to do this," she said. "It feels like begging."

But Gloria Lucas said she doesn't see any other options.

Delbert Lucas' retirement was supporting the family through the summer, when a school bus driver like herself has little to do.

Holding the flag presented to her during the funeral, Gloria Lucas said her husband was a proud man who likely would be embarrassed by the attention.

A native of Hegins, Pennsylvania, he joined the Army in 1957 and was awarded a Purple Heart after being wounded in Vietnam. He retired in 1977 as a staff sergeant and went on to work for Bell Helicopter and later Suttles Trucking.

Gloria Lucas said her husband was proud of his service. He was rarely seen without a hat denoting his unit — the 173rd Airborne.

"He loved it all," she said.

brooksd@fayobserver.com
 

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