James Kirk Luder, 87, died September 24, 2020 at the Catholic Care Center in Bel Aire, Kansas of a rare form of leukemia. He was born December 26, 1932 to Jacob “Pop” and Clemmer (Knapp) Luder in Waldo, Kansas. Jim is survived by Loretta, his wife of 65 years. He was preceded in death by his parents, his infant brother Noel, and grandson Edward “Rob” Koger, Jr. James was a veteran of the U.S. Army, a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Colwich, the American Legion, and a lifelong member of Disabled American Veterans.
Jim attended Waldo schools and upon graduation enlisted during the Korean War in November of 1951. Shortly thereafter the army put him through Leadership Course at Camp Roberts, California, where he graduated first in his class. Luder was sent on to Officer’s Training School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and upon his graduation from OTS was promoted to Second Lieutenant and ordered to Fort Riley. There he served as a platoon leader in the 86th Infantry and automatic weapons instructor. An accident on the training range there caused him permanent hearing loss.
While stationed at Fort Riley, Jim met Loretta Hamilton of Irving, Kansas, and they married October 9, 1954. Jim and Loretta and their growing family resided in towns across Kansas before they settled in Cottonwood Falls and eventually retired to Colwich, where they made their home from 2004 until very recently.
During his career Jim worked in several fields, notably oil and gas, insurance, sales, heating and air conditioning, and as a manufacturer’s representative before he became Sales Manager and then General Manager of Ansel Manufacturing in Ulysses, Kansas in 1973. A few years later Jim formed his own livestock facilities and equipment company, Luco Manufacturing, in Meade, Kansas before relocating the company to Strong City, Kansas, because of all the places the family had lived, Chase County always felt most like home. Jim remained involved in the business even after retirement when his son Bill took it over.
Jim was an avid reader, history buff, expert trap shooter, occasional fisherman, lover of good cigars (and not so good), combative card player with anyone and everyone, even his own grandchildren, and cutthroat croquet opponent against his sisters. To his seven kids, Dad was Grand Master of all their childhood games, especially their favorite “Run, Sheep, Run,” one he spent many summer nights playing with them but never lost to anyone.
Like many of his generation whose formative experiences were the Depression and World War II, Jim valued mental toughness and did not suffer fools or whiners gladly. He valued humility and considered it a duty to try to instill it in his children; about the highest praise his could expect for even the most impressive accomplishment was his rare, but heartfelt, “Well, well, well—how about that!” Jim and Loretta taught their children by example to aspire but never envy, and not to expect anyone to hand them anything without working hard for it. Jim was a realist who believed it was better to brace his children for life’s adversities rather than coddle them, and often shared with them his own conviction born of experience that “Life ain’t always going to be fair, so you better get used to it.” But he was also a natural optimist; his family heard him say many times “I’ve always been lucky” and “things tend to work out,” and his indomitable spirit and sense of humor never left him even in his final days.
In addition to his wife, Jim is survived by his twin sisters Beth Whitman of Paradise, KS and Wilma “Billie” McAlexander of LaGrange, GA and his seven children: Dr. Jacob Kim (Debra) Luder, Sparta, MO; Kay (Edward) Koger, Wilmore, KS; Diana Luder, North Carolina; Dr. Everett Kirk (Theresa) Luder, Buena Vista, VA; William (Sandy) Luder, Cottonwood Falls, KS; Dr. Barbara Luder, Wichita, KS and Robert (Tayna) Luder, Overland Park, KS. He is also survived by 17 grandchildren: Kris Cummings, Kory Luder, Kari Baumgarner, Kyle Luder, Jared Koger, Jenna Simmons, Beth Luder, Christian Luder, Rose Luder, Cassandra Luder, Matt Luder, Sarah Luder, Rachel DeWitt, Laura DeWitt, Ryan Luder, Eric Luder, Emily Luder, 20 great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews of whom he was extremely fond.
Rosary service will be 1:00 p.m. Monday, September 28, 2020, at St. Anthony Catholic Church with Mass of Christian Burial to follow at 2:00 p.m., with Father Andrew Seiler officiating. Burial will follow at St. Anthony Cemetery, Strong City. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to St. Anthony Building Fund or Wounded Warrior Project, in care of Brown-Bennett-Alexander Funeral Home, PO Box 220, Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, 66845.
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