David Lukens '62: Songbird

By Mary Boone

Dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and khaki slacks, Dr. David L. Lukens doesn’t fit the physician stereotype.

“From the start, I said I wasn’t going to be the kind of doctor who wore a white coat and whose office smelled like ether. We’re a bit more relaxed here,” he says. Relaxed, perhaps, but intensely devoted to medicine, his patients, and his practice.

After graduating from Puget Sound with a degree in biology, Lukens attended Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his internship and residency in Grand Rapids, Mich., returning to Tacoma in 1967 to start his own practice.

“At first, I did it all, providing care from the cradle to the grave,” he says. “I had a lot of Marcus Welby in me. After a while, I realized that wasn’t very practical because Dr. Welby was only seeing one patient per show.“

Lukens, whose office is in the St. Joseph Medical Pavilion, now specializes in family and physical medicine, tending to those with birth defects, and sports and auto injuries. For the past 32 years, he’s also worked with the Federal Aviation Administration to perform medical examinations on air traffic controllers, and commercial and recreational pilots.

“Aviation medicine is becoming a bigger and bigger part of my practice, which is great because I love dealing with pilots,” he says.

Lukens’ affection for pilots is natural—he is one. He got his pilot’s license when he was a college sophomore but says his interest in airplanes dates back to his childhood.

“I grew up on American Lake, and I used to wash down seaplanes just so I could get rides,” he says. “I must have been a bird in a former life.”

If Lukens was a bird, he must have been a songbird.

The Clover Park High School alumnus attended Puget Sound on a music scholarship. He performed with the Adelphians, directed the Sigma Chi glee club, and sang a solo at commencement. Lukens’ mother was the organist at Tacoma’s First Christian Church, and he earned extra cash singing at funerals and weddings there.

“It was a great deal because my mom and I had a large enough repertoire that we didn’t need to rehearse much, I got to eat at rehearsal dinners, plus I got paid,” he remembers.

Music remains one of Lukens’ avocations; he sings tenor in the choir and in a 12-voice men’s ensemble at Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church in Gig Harbor. He also performs with Northwest Repertory Singers, an audition-based group founded and directed by former Puget Sound music professor Paul Schultz.

Music is just one of many interests he shares with his new bride, Rosemary Wickman Lukens ’78. The two met at church and were married in February.

“I don’t play golf, but I find time for other pursuits: music, skiing, scuba, sailing, flying, kite-flying,” he says. “We love to toss our bikes in the plane and fly up to the San Juan Islands for a ride and lunch. That’s our idea of real fun.”