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Bob Luckey, ex-Newsday photographer who captured historic moments, dies at 76

Former Newsday photographer Bob Luckey died Friday, Sept.

Former Newsday photographer Bob Luckey died Friday, Sept. 19, 2014 at his home in Clyde, North Carolina, his family said. He was 76. Credit: Courtesy of family

The Beatles playing Shea Stadium, President John F. Kennedy's funeral, duck farms on the East End -- for more than four decades photojournalist Bob Luckey captured moments big and small for Newsday.

"He was a street-smart city kid -- he'd cover anything," said his son, Bob Luckey Jr., 52.

Luckey, who later served as an assignment photo editor, died Friday of heart failure at his home in Clyde, North Carolina, his family said. He was 76.

After starting his career at the Long Island Press in the late 1950s, Luckey was recruited by former Newsday photo editor Harvey Weber to join the paper in 1962.

"He was one of those people that was part of the transformation of Newsday from a small, suburban paper into a big-city paper that just didn't have a big city with it," said Anthony Marro, who served as Newsday's editor from 1987 to 2003.

Luckey was on the front lines of some of the most important stories of his day -- he photographed JFK on the presidential campaign trail and traveled to Washington, D.C., on a "bitter cold" November day to photograph the slain president's funeral, recalled his son, a staff photographer for the Greenwich Time in Connecticut.

"When I was a young kid in the late 60s, I remember my dad coming home with riot gear that Newsday issued," his son said, remembering how the elder Luckey was dispatched to the South to document the sometimes violent civil rights movement. "He had a riot helmet, a flack jacket -- at the time I was thinking, 'Where are they sending him?' "

But capturing daily life on Long Island's rural East End was what most intrigued Luckey, family and colleagues said.

Stan Wolfson, a retired Newsday photographer and assignment editor, recalled Luckey navigating dirt roads to reach assignments at a time when the Long Island Expressway had yet to reach Ronkonkoma.

"Luckey was someone you could always go to for help," Wolfson said. "He knew the ins and outs of Long Island. It was unbelievable."

John Keating, Newsday's deputy director of photography, who worked alongside Luckey after joining the staff as a photographer in 1987, described him as "the best assignment editor I ever worked for."

"Bob had spent years working as a photographer, and seemed to have memorized every road on Long Island," Keating said. "No matter where you had to go on an assignment, he could tell you exactly how to get there. He was like having a GPS long before they existed."

Born Sept. 9, 1938, in Brooklyn, Bob Luckey moved to Levittown with his parents, Harold and Helen Luckey, in the early 1950s. He was married to his wife Lorraine Piculell for 54 years, and the couple raised six children in Stony Brook. He retired from Newsday in 2001.

Luckey is survived by his wife, his son, Bob Jr. of Greenwich, and his other children: Brigid Luckey-Smith of Clyde, North Carolina; Brian Luckey of Southampton; Elizabeth Ferro of Cobb County, Georgia; Jennifer Meyer of Rocky Point; Margaret Luckey-Helenius of Mastic Beach; his sister, Helen Rafferty of Stony Brook; and 11 grandchildren.

A funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday at Mount Zion Methodist Church in Clyde, North Carolina, with a burial to follow at the Upper Crabtree Community Cemetery.

"He was a good observer of human nature, he could document that well, I think it helped him as a photographer," his son said.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled Harvey Weber's last name.

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