John Lukehart, 55, chairman of the Oak Park Area Arts Council board, former chair of the Community Relations Commission, and former head of the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities, died Tuesday at 9:26 p.m. following a two-year battle with glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer.
Born on the family farm in central Iowa, he graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in “Distributed Studies,” focusing on sociology and political science. He moved to Oak Park in 1980 and joined the Arts Council board in 2000.
The cancer was aggressive, requiring numerous surgeries and at one point, a section of his skull had to be removed, forcing him to wear a protective helmet. But it didn’t slow him down. He continued to make public appearances and act as the village’s number one champion of the arts.
Peter Levavi, a colleague from his days with the Leadership Council, called him a “truly a wonderful person, unique in his commitment to social justice and unflinching in his determination to achieve racial equality. But more important, he was the kindest, warmest, humblest public servant I have had the opportunity to work with. He will be greatly missed.”
Lukehart and his family arranged to donate his brain and several organs to science.
Visitation will be held Friday, Dec. 14 from 3 to 9 p.m. at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home, 203 S. Marion St. Funeral services are scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at First United Church of Oak Park, 848 Lake St., followed by interment at Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park. For more information, call Drechsler Brown at 383-3191.