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Parts maker Bron Lukas dies at 89

Bron Lukas was 6 feet, 2 inches tall, but he was known as the "Little Old Cam-Maker."

From his basement in East Northport, and later from a business in Deer Park, Lukas designed the intricate cams that were used to construct precision parts for machines and devices from the space shuttle to the animatronic dinosaur heads in the film "Jurassic Park."

"The parts that we made were going into aircraft instruments, medical instruments, weapons systems, flight control, dental products," said Daniel George, Lukas' former business partner, of Wading River. "He was a master at doing the cams. It's not an easy job to do, and he was very good at it."

Lukas died Sunday at Stony Brook University Hospital at age 89 of renal disease, said Beatrice McHale, his partner for the last 25 years.

Born in a tenement on the Lower East Side to immigrant parents, Lukas attended Stuyvesant High School and was an Army medic in Burma during World War II.

After his return, Lukas worked several odd jobs before becoming a cam-maker and machinist.

While working days at an instrument company, he made cams in his basement at night. In 1981, Lukas founded Swiss Specialties, a precision parts company, in George's basement with a third partner, Hans Kocher. Cams guided the machines the company used to produce many different parts.

George's former employer had purchased cams from Lukas, and the three men figured they could do for themselves what they had been doing for other companies.

"We had the know-how," George said. "We had three people who knew how to run the machines. We figured, 'Why not give it a shot?' "

The business ultimately expanded from George's basement to a building in Deer Park. In 1994 the company moved to Bohemia, where it employs 12 people.

Lukas also was the company's brain trust, George said.

"He was kind of like our sage," he said. "He had business connections through the industry that we didn't have. He had technical knowledge."

Lukas retired in 1994, and spent the rest of his life with McHale, who said her friends loved him because "he made everyone comfortable."

His wife, Jeanette, died in 1976. Lukas's life was "blown apart," George said, but then he met McHale at Sunken Meadow Golf Course in 1987.

Besides his partner, Lukas is survived by a son, Mark Lukas of Boston; a daughter, Christine Lukas of East Rutherford, N.J.; and five grandchildren.

A funeral Mass was celebrated Wednesday at St. Gerard Majella Church in Port Jefferson Station. Burial followed at Pinelawn Memorial Park, Farmingdale.

-- With David Uberti

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