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Columbia Missourian

Veteran Anthony James Luciano dies at 74

By Richie Bernardo
April 2, 2012 | 8:00 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Anthony James Luciano always chuckled whenever his older sister, Sylvia Mooney, recalled their childhood.

"Junior," as he was known to his siblings, was eight years younger than Mooney, who would push him on his "buggy" as a baby. Reminiscing about those days, she said she felt sorry for the mothers who didn't have children as adorable as Mr. Luciano.

"He had a round face and brown eyes," Mooney said. "He was a cute baby."

Years later, she would tell that story over and over to Mr. Luciano.

"That always made him laugh," she said. "He loved that story."

Mr. Luciano died Saturday, March 31, 2012, at his home. He was 74.

He was born Jan. 2, 1938, in Altoona, Pa., to Anthony and Angelina (Richardella) Luciano.

For 26 years, he served in the Army and the Air Force, working on top secret communications. His service separated him from his parents and siblings. During the course of his military career, he was always in another part of the world: Africa, England, Germany, Italy, Sudan and Korea. 

While stationed in Germany, he met Magdalena Knaup, whom he married Dec. 7, 1959. They moved to Columbia in 1981.

"We'd been separated for a long time," his sister said. The two siblings, however, never lost touch, relying on letters and frequent calls to stay up to date.

"We were close," Mooney said. "When you're a close family, you're always close no matter where you are."

For 20 years after Mr. Luciano retired from the military, he held a job with a data company that required him to travel between states. He once was passing through Indianapolis, where Mooney lived at the time, and took advantage of the opportunity to visit her.

Several years ago, Mooney was able to again spend time with Mr. Luciano and his family in Pensacola, Fla. She hadn't seen him for a while and said she was glad they were able to spend "quite a bit of time there" together.

During that visit, Mr. Luciano was just as Mooney had always known him — smiling and laughing.

"He was always happy. I never saw him anything but happy no matter how much sickness he's been through. That was my brother Tony," she said, calling him by his other nickname.

"My father is in heaven, and he's laughing," she said, choking up. "Tony took after my father. They're laughing together up there."

When Mr. Luciano and Mooney talked on the phone at the end of January, he told her he had been hospitalized with pneumonia. They then made plans to get together when he was better but never got the opportunity.

Mr. Luciano enjoyed golf, bowling and motorcycles. He also prepared taxes for H&R Block for eight years.

He is survived by his wife; a son, Anthony G. Luciano, and his wife, Lorraine, of Melbourne, Australia; a daughter, Rachel Luciano-Allen, and her husband, Marlin Allen, of Columbia; a brother, David Joseph Luciano, of Altoona, Pa.; a sister, Sylvia Mooney, of Martinsville, Ind.; 11 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

His son Brian K. Luciano, brother Daniel and sisters Dolores "Dolly" Cannon, Joan Ruth Popovich and Mary Grace Colurso died earlier.

Visitation will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Nilson Funeral Home, 5611 St. Charles Road. Services will follow at 11 a.m. Burial will be at Missouri State Veterans Cemetery at 1479 County Road 1675 in Jacksonville.

Memorial contributions can be made to the American Cancer Society for lymphoma research in Mr. Luciano's honor. Online condolences can be left for the family at www.nilsonfuneralhome.com.