Adversity shadowed Seth Luker for much of his life, but his friends and family say it never got the best of him.
The Merrick resident battled cancer off and on for years, lost his Bellmore home to superstorm Sandy and watched his newborn son struggle with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of muscle tissue cancer. Luker’s loved ones say he remained a joyful force driven to help others, living life at warp speed even when his was slipping away.
Luker died Dec. 22 at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset from colon cancer. He was 40.
“My husband was an amazing man,” said Allison Schneider, Luker’s wife. “He did so much good for so many people. He was such an inspiration. He tried to find silver linings where they seemingly did not exist.”
“He was my rock-and-roll cowboy,” she added, “my hero, my Superman.”
Luker was a college football player, rock-and-roll tour manager, wellness entrepreneur and motivational speaker. He looked for the good in everyday life, said his longtime friend, musician Mark Tremonti, best known as the lead guitarist with Creed. “Seth was a pure spirit,” Tremonti said. “He was such a positive guy.”
Luker was born Feb. 21, 1978. He grew up in rural Texas and attended high school in Stephenville, about 70 miles southwest of Fort Worth. He was a precocious kid who loved sports and playing in the woods with friends, said his parents, Alan and Diane Luker, of Gustine, Texas. Luker, a defensive lineman, attended the University of North Texas on a football scholarship and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance. He became the tour manager for indie rock band Submersed — his brother, Kelan Luker, played bass — and worked with Creed and Tremonti.
Luker was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2005 at 27. It went into remission after treatment, his family said.
Schneider, 47, a Merrick native, said she was enjoying a girls’ weekend in 2007 when she met Luker, on tour with Submersed, at a country-and-western club in Nashville.
“I noticed this gorgeous guy looking at me,” Schneider said. “Five minutes after we met, he told me, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this but you are the girl I am going to marry.’ It was the best pickup line ever.”
Schneider’s sister, Andrea Schneider, said Allison was “glowing” when she returned to New York. “It was a love-at-first-sight moment,” she said. “Seth had that Texas charm. You could just tell he lived life to the fullest.”
Six months after the couple met, Luker’s cancer returned, metastasizing to his liver. He had surgery in Texas, then traveled to Long Island for chemotherapy and to be with Schneider, his family said. They married in December 2009.
Eager to take control of his health, Luker researched superfoods and nutritional products. “Seth channeled his emotions into getting well,” his father, Alan Luker, said. “He told me he didn’t have time to be mad or blame God, because he had to get healthy.”
Luker and Allison Schneider eventually founded Rockin’ Wellness, a Bellmore company that offers high-nutrition smoothies and shakes. He began working out with mixed-martial arts fighters and sponsoring athletes, including Gareth Hoernel, who fights on Long Island.
“Seth wanted everyone in his inner circle to succeed,” Hoernel said. “He was put on this planet to help people. He was a very spiritual man who believed the good energy you put out is equal to the good energy you get. He got his mental and spiritual strength from helping others.”
Luker became a motivational speaker, talking about his health struggles, nutrition, exercise and positive thinking. In 2013, he was the keynote speaker with Harry Belafonte at a Monter Cancer Center survivors benefit in Lake Success.
“He urged people to turn their fear into faith,” Schneider said.
All that good energy, Schneider said, came back when she learned she was pregnant. Doctors had told Luker that cancer treatments compromised his fertility. Nash, born in spring 2012, was named after the city where they met.
Nash underwent surgeries and 42 rounds of chemotherapy after he was diagnosed, at 3 days old, with rhabdomyosarcoma. He is now a healthy 6-year-old.
Luker’s cancer returned in 2016, this time spreading to his liver and lungs. He remained positive, his family said, but he succumbed in December. “He said, ‘Dad, I’m a fighter, I want to live,’ ” Alan Luker said.
In addition to his wife, son and parents, Luker is survived by siblings Kelan Luker and Scarlett Luker, both of Texas. A memorial was held Jan. 4 at the First Baptist Church in Gustine, Texas. A private celebration of his life will be held this weekend at their home in Merrick.
The family asked for donations to Sunrise Association Day Camps or the Norman J. Levy Lakeside Elementary School PTA in Merrick.
“Seth was a guy who was easy to like,” Hoernel said. “He was a beacon of positivity.”