Weaving the Story of Women's Lives: Col. Ruth A. Lucas

Col. Ruth A. Lucas (Courtesy photo)

Col. Ruth A. Lucas (Courtesy photo)

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Col. Ruth A. Lucas was born in Stamford, Conn., Nov. 28, 1920.

Lucas was educated at what is now Tuskegee University in Alabama in 1942, studying on a scholarship and majoring in education with a minor in sociology.

After graduation, Lucas enlisted in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) in 1942. She was one of the first black women to attend what is now the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va. She transferred from the Army to the Air Force shortly after it was created in 1947.

While Lucas was stationed at an Air Force base in Tokyo, Japan, from 1951 to 1954, she became chief of the Awards Division. Lucas could be found teaching English to Japanese children and college students during her off-duty hours.

After returning stateside, she received a master's degree in educational psychology from Columbia University in 1957 and moved to the Washington, D.C., area in the early 1960s.

Lucas mainly held positions in research and education. She was the assistant for general education and counseling services in the office of the deputy assistant secretary of defense for education at the Pentagon when she was promoted to the rank of colonel in 1968.

She was able to set up programs that would raise the educational levels of service members. Lucas said her goal was to spark their interest in education in order to get them to continue their education.

"Most people don't realize that among all the servicemen who enter the military annually, about 45,000 of them read below the fifth-grade level, and more than 30 percent of these men are black," she said in a 1969 interview with Ebony Magazine. "Right now if I have any aim, it's just to reach these men, to interest them in education and to motivate them to continue on."

Lucas retired from the Air Force in 1970. After her retirement, she remained active in education becoming the director of urban services at the old Washington Technical Institute, one of three schools that merged in 1977 to form the University of the District of Columbia. The programs she designed were meant to encourage high school students to pursue higher education.

She retired in 1994 as the assistant to the dean of UDC's College of Physical Science, Engineering and Technology.

(Source: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/lucas-ruth-alice-1920-2013)
On March 23, 2013, Lucas died at the age of 92 at her home in Washington, D.C.