25 years as chief executive officer of Westvaco Corp. made him part of a still-unbroken six-generation chain of family members who have led the paper and chemicals company, now MeadWestvaco Corp.
Lukes have run Westvaco since its founding in 1888 as Piedmont Pulp & Paper Co. John A. Luke Jr., the great-great- grandson of founder William Luke, is the current chairman and CEO of Richmond, Virginia-based MeadWeastvaco, formed in 2002 by the $3.29 billion merger of Westvaco, which was long based in New York, with Mead Corp. The combined company created the second-largest maker of coated paper, the glossy paper found in magazines and brochures, after International Paper Co.
David Luke III, as CEO from 1963 to 1988, oversaw four rounds of company expansions. In 1969, the company changed its name from West Virginia Pulp & Paper Co. to Westvaco, which had been its widely used nickname. Luke stepped aside as CEO in 1988 to make way for his brother, John A. Luke Sr., and remained chairman until retiring in 1996.
The Luke family has retained the CEO role at publicly traded MeadWestvaco even though its ownership share fell to 2 percent by 1984 from 30 percent in 1962, according to the company-histories directory. John A. Luke Jr., the current CEO, owns 2 percent of all the stock, some of which he holds in trust for members of his family, according to a company filing.
David Lincoln Luke III was born in July 1923, according to public records, the son of David Lincoln Luke Jr. and the former Priscilla Warren. He was born in Tyrone, Pennsylvania, the New York Times reported in 1967, and spent his later childhood in New York.
He attended Hotchkiss from 1937 to 1941, serving as president of the student council and competing in football, hockey, baseball, and track. Luke was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" and "Most Versatile."
His studies at Yale University were interrupted by World War II, and he served as a U.S. Marine Corps aviator, seeing combat over the Mariana Islands and Okinawa in the Pacific theater, according to a death notice in the New York Times.
After graduating from Yale, in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1948, he moved to Boston to join American Research and Development Corp. He was a former director of the New York Stock Exchange and was chairman, from 1992 to 1998, of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a scientific research institution on New York's Long Island.
His wife of almost 60 years, the former Fanny Curtis, died on Oct. 16. Survivors include a sister, Melinda, and many nieces and nephews.