Looking back on the life of Isaac Lucking, one thing is clear: he lived to help others. He was a chauffeur, an extra hand on a project, a friend. And he always had a way of making people happy.
“He was born with one heck of a grin,” said his mother, Patty.
His nickname, “Tubby,” came from a mock presidential campaign he and his friends ran back in 2008. They had T-shirts made to represent themselves as candidates; Isaac’s read “Tubba-love.”
When his nephews would come over and have sword fights, he would grab a spatula from the kitchen and join them.
Last Thursday, Isaac’s family and friends said goodbye, after he was fatally injured in an ATV crash.
The son of Randy and Patty Lucking of Vermillion, Isaac was a 2005 Hastings High School graduate. He had worked for a time for a farm in New Trier, then got a job driving trucks for Park Construction. His most recent job was with Ames Construction. While he didn’t have regular work on the Hastings bridge, he helped drive a few things to the site.
Outside of work, Isaac was always active. He loved the outdoors — fishing, camping, four-wheeling and more.
“He loved to play in the dirt,” Patty said.
He caught “the big one” when he was about 8 years old, on a family trip to Richmond. He reeled in a carp almost as big as he was. The fish was so big that he had to have two other people help him pull it in.
He loved demolition derbies, and at age 17, he drove in his first one. That was after he made a habit of walking down the street to help a former neighbor work on his demo derby car. It usually only took him about five minutes to show up from the moment he heard the engine start.
Helping people was the keystone of Isaac’s life, family says. Even as a child he would help his mother make Halloween costumes. Patty would let him help her cut the material, and when he ran out of material to cut, he found other things that needed a little trimming down, including a sweater and his own hair.
As he got older, Isaac started helping in bigger ways. When he was in high school, he would walk down the block to visit Aggie Deutsch, an elderly neighbor who had lost her husband. With no prompting, he would volunteer to spend time with her, and if Patty had made homemade bread, Isaac would ask to bring some to give her. The visits went on for a couple years until Deutsch died. At her funeral, Isaac’s parents learned just how much of an impact their son had made. Their neighbor’s family had heard so much about Isaac, although they had never met him before.
Isaac would go out of his way to shovel driveways for people in the winter and would give rides to anyone who needed one.
“If you needed help, he was right there,” Patty said.
He was a friend to everyone, from the moment he met them.
“Isaac never met a stranger,” Isaac’s older brother, Andy, said in his eulogy.
Even in his death, Isaac is helping others and giving his parents some solace at the same time. He was an organ donor, and virtually all his organs were able to be used to help other patients. It’s a comfort to Randy and Patty, they said. Patty said she looks at it as God’s way of saying that these other people still have something they need to do in life, since Isaac was a perfect match. The recipient of Isaac’s heart had only about two months left to live, Patty said.
“I pray they get healthy and do what they have to do,” she said.
Outpouring of support
Since the accident, there has been no shortage of support for Isaac’s family. At the wake, only half a pew was open at Caturia-Smidt Funeral Home. At his funeral, it was standing room only, and some even had to stand outside the doors.
“Even though my heart’s breaking, it’s so full,” Patty said.
The pallbearers, knowing that Randy and Patty had wanted to put up a flagpole and plaque in honor of their son, volunteered the time and money to get it done. People have been at the house almost every day to offer support. The Luckings’ home was filled with flowers to the point where they couldn’t even see their dining room anymore, Patty said. Since then, she’s donated several bouquets to residents at Angel’s Care Center in Cannon Falls and Augustana Health Care Center in Hastings. The flowers could help brighten someone’s day, she said, and it’s just the sort of thing that Isaac would have done.
When Isaac was still in the hospital, Patty’s younger sister and Randy’s brother and sister-in-law arranged for the hospital to allow 50 to 60 of Isaac’s friends to go in and say their goodbyes.
“I can’t thank them enough,” Patty said.
Today, the Luckings fly a Donate Life flag — the same one that was draped over Isaac’s body before it was taken to surgery to harvest the organs. The Luckings’ experience with Donate Life, the organization that managed the organ donation, has solidified a desire to support that organization. Besides the organization’s care for the family and friends throughout the process, it paid the bills accrued from Isaac’s death last Friday until the organs were harvested. In Isaac’s case, that amount of time was extended. Tests for brain activity have to be performed twice over a period of time to confirm death; after the second test confirms the first, the time of death is recorded as the time of the first test.
As the Lucking family moves ahead, Isaac will live on with them in their stories and their memories. As Andy Lucking said in his eulogy: “I will be telling Isaac’s story the rest of my life, and I hope all of you share Isaac’s story with everyone you meet. So, if you want to honor Isaac, don’t be a stranger to others, help out others in need, be happy, tell his story and above all else remember the incredible smile that guy had.”