Success is Almost Heaven

The Lukowskis: Success is Almost Heaven

The first time I met Michael and Judy Lukowski they were living in a trailer. Michael was a grad student at the University of Florida and Judy worked for UF as an agricultural extension agent. As natives of West Virginia, they were characteristically down to earth. And they were smart and talented in ways well beyond the academic bookworm types.

Michael, a swimmer as an undergrad, was a whiz at carpentry (He even had to have part of his finger sewn back on after he cut it off with an electric saw he was using to build something or other.) With her training and expertise developed as part of her career, Judy was the consummate homemaker/cook, even to the point of baking her own bread.

What I didn’t know 40 years ago is that we’d be lifelong friends – especially Judy and I — through thick and thin.

What I also didn’t know, but should have been able to predict, is that they’d be an amazing success by anyone’s definition. Michael went on to get his medical degree and delivered 10,000-plus babies before “retiring” from his practice a couple of years ago. Judy tirelessly kept things going in her own inimitable style on the home front as they reared three also-amazing children.

But that’s not all they did. In the middle of what would be enough for most couples, they got their pilot’s licenses and started a business. Their University Air Center is now a very big deal in Gainesville. With a fleet of airplanes, they charter flights for UF athletic teams, transport organs (body parts, that is) around the Southeast, and provide fuel for each and every plane coming and going from Gainesville Regional Airport. At the same time, Michael is on the teaching staff at Shands Teaching Hospital.

But that’s still not all.

Today the couple travels extensively around the world and takes frequent scuba and snorkeling trips to Key West on their boat, Almost Heaven, named fondly after their home state.

Not bad for two kids from West Virginia who lived in a trailer. And not bad for a couple in their late 60s who could kick back and retire. I know, however, it’s not their style. It clearly would be too slow!

Thoughts about his post? Know of any other remarkable explorers we might profile or topics you’d like us to cover?  Let us hear from you!


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