Homer Alaska - Obituaries

Story last updated at 7:43 PM on Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lucas F. Irons


Lucas F. Irons

Feb. 25, 1986-Jan. 25, 2012

Lucas Foster Irons, 25, died unexpectedly in his sleep Jan. 25, 2012, in Everett, Wash. An informal potluck celebration of his life will be held at 2 p.m. Feb. 19, 2012, at the Homer Elks Lodge. Everyone is welcome.

Lucas was born Feb. 25, 1986, in Tucson, Ariz., the only and cherished son of Jean Aspen and Tom Irons of Homer. He spent much of his childhood in his parents glass studio in the Tucson Mountains among whimsical art and natural beauty. His grandmother, Connie Helmericks, was an arctic adventurer and author. When Luke was 6 the family and close friend, Laurie Schacht, set off for an Alaska wilderness adventure of their own. They were flown into remote mountains of the Brooks Range where they built a cabin and lived in complete isolation for a year before canoeing 600 miles out to civilization. When Luke was 13 the little group repeated 14 months at their cabin so that Luke could experience being a co-creator of adventure.

He was a creative, brilliant and adventuresome person, his family said. He was also gentle, compassionate and deep. Like his grandmother, mother and father, Luke found his greatest strength in the peace of wilderness.

His early arctic adventure was the subject of Arctic Son, a documentary made by his parents. Images of Lucas life in the arctic can be found at jeanaspen.com.

Luke had a mixed education, attending private and public school when he was in civilization. He spent his small earnings on teddy bears for kids of all ages, asking teachers to anonymously gift these to anyone having a bad day. It tickled him that no one knew where the stuffed animals came from. As a teenager he would walk with his arm around his father or hold his mothers hand in public. The summer he was 15 he volunteered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service doing remote fish surveys and was hired in that capacity the following summer. His 17th summer he spent with his mother in Guatemala doing medical outreach in mountain villages. Lucas had a deep love for all people and did not judge anyone. He planned to volunteer in Africa.

Luke left high school after his junior year and enrolled in Pima College, in Tucson, Ariz., where he tested out of his freshman classes. He graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor of science in nursing, then started for Alaska, but found a job along the way as an orthopedic nurse in Everett, Wash. In the two years he lived in Everett he developed a diverse wealth of friends who held three memorial tributes for him.

We have been astonished at the outpouring of love. Hundreds of people have come forward to say how wise, talented, and caring he was, what a difference he made in their lives, his family said.

Lucas placed no value on material things and repeatedly took in homeless kids, forgiving them when they stole his belongings. He was a gentle soul who placed no qualification on love. He cared tenderly for his patients and jumped in to help his coworkers. He was playful, laughed and even sang at work. He loved to teach nursing students and they clustered around him. One nurse told of how she looked down the hall and saw him, like a big flower with all the students buzzing around. People felt warm being near him.

Lucas leaves behind grieving family and friends too numerous to acknowledge.

His parents want to thank each of you for your love and support during this painful time. He had planned to come to Homer this winter and then spend the summer with his parents at their cabin in the wilderness. Anyone choosing to honor Lukes memory can donate to the local animal shelter or any cause that improves their community, or by simply paying-it-forward to someone who needs compassion, even when they dont seem to deserve it. Thats what Luke would do.