John "Jack" M. Luike Sr., an Army ship's captain during World War II, died Thursday of complications of a broken hip at Chester River Hospital Center in Chestertown. He was 79.
Mr. Luike was born in Betterton, a small town on the Chesapeake Bay in Kent County. He started his career on the water when he was 13, quitting school to join his father as a commercial fisherman until he was drafted into the Army. He was sent to the South Pacific, where he was captain of a mechanized landing craft.
After an honorable discharge as a staff sergeant in 1946, Mr. Luike returned to Betterton - and the house in which he was born - and worked as a patrol boat captain at Aberdeen Proving Ground for 42 years until his retirement in 1987, after which he took a job caring for Betterton's beaches.
"He grew up on that beach just like I did and his father did," said Mr. Luike's son John "Jackie" M. Luike Jr. of Betterton. "He took that job to heart."
In 1947, Mr. Luike married Esther Faebus, whom he met when he ran an excursion ferry service. Mrs. Luike died in 1990.
Mr. Luike also was a 64-year member of Betterton's volunteer fire department, which was next to his house.
"He was always right there ready to roll when the whistle went off," his son said. "He just had to hop the fence."
Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Fellows, Helfenbein and Newman Funeral Home, 130 Speer Road, Chestertown,
In addition to his son, Mr. Luike is survived by another son, Jeffrey Luike of Galena; two daughters, Janet Nordoff of Rock Hall and Jean Luike Gsell of Worton; two sisters, Caroline Wedosky of Farmington, Conn., and Ruth Parker of Los Alamos, N.M.; five grandchildren; and one great-grandson.