One could say that Dr. Luman was a complex combination of intellect, quick humor, affable nature and extreme generosity. We first met Dr. Luman many years ago when he established a memorial fund for his parents. His father, David, a lifelong railroad worker, worked hard to provide for his family. His mother, Metta Lee, was a stay-at-home mom who first nurtured Richard’s love of books, a love that became his life’s passion (she helped him learn to read at 2-1/2 after all!).
Born in Ottumwa in 1930, Dr. Luman went on to acquire a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in religion, as well as a Ph.D in history from the University of Iowa. This marked the beginning of what was to become an illustrious teaching career that would take him into to the classrooms of many institutions, such as the University of Chicago, Haverford College and Columbia University, just to name a few. The recipient of prestigious fellowships, grants and awards too numerous to list, he was even granted access to the Vatican Library to perform research.
Dr. Luman led a fascinating life and although he traveled to 17 different countries, some up to 10 times and many for up to months at a time, he chose to return to Ottumwa, the place of his birth upon retirement. He also made a calculated decision to give back to Ottumwa – even upon his death. By thoughtfully creating a plan for his estate, Dr. Luman was able to leave a substantial gift to the Foundation and continue the legacy of generosity that he practiced throughout his life. We are grateful to Dr. Richard Luman and remember him fondly as an educator, story-teller, benefactor and friend.