Navy hero Zenin Lukosius dies at 87

SOUTH HOLLAND Family, friends remember South Holland man as active person

Times Correspondent

This story ran on on Friday, August 18, 2006 1:07 AM CDT

SOUTH HOLLAND | Al Dunlop had no idea his friend was a bona fide hero.

But then Dunlop saw Zenin Lukosius' name about 50 years ago attached to a Museum of Science and Industry exhibit .

"He was a hero, and he never said a word about his exploits," said Dunlop, a Crete resident and former South Holland resident. "He was kind of shy. He wasn't a braggart."

As Dunlop soon learned, Lukosius received the Silver Star for stopping a German submarine from sinking after the U.S. Navy captured it in 1944 during World War II.

Lukosius, a motor machinist mate who worked with engines in the Navy, quickly volunteered to be a part of the task force that boarded the U-505 submarine, said his son, Paul Lukosius.

Onboard, he discovered a sea strainer the Germans had removed to flood the U-boat and, despite the danger of booby traps, picked up the cover and put it back in place.

"None of those guys thought they were signing up to be heroes," Paul Lukosius said.

A father of four children and a resident of South Holland since 1959, Zenin Lukosius died of a lung ailment Saturday at Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey -- two weeks shy of his 88th birthday.

Born in Chicago's Roseland neighborhood, the son of Lithuanian immigrants, Lukosius was a Chicagoan all of his life, said his daughter, Diane Siadak. He married Dorothy Lebus, of Chicago, on April 30, 1944, two months before saving the U-505. Lebus died in 1995.

He participated as an oral historian for the U-505 exhibit, which became a fixture of the Museum of Science and Industry in 1954. He later helped the fundraising efforts to encase the submarine in an enclosed exhibit hall.

Lukosius, or "Zen," as his friends liked to call him, was always on the go.

Siadak said her father walked 5 miles a day, and was a tremendous gardener who had 100-some tomato plants in his garden last year.

"He was full of life and full of excitement and would do anything and go anywhere for anybody," said neighbor John Sullivan, pastor of Spirit of the God Fellowship Church in South Holland where Lukosius attended services.

Zenin Lukosius is survived by his children, Diane, Paul and Catherine Postma, and seven grandchildren.

Funeral services will take place today, with a viewing at 10:30 a.m. and service at 11 a.m. at Spirit of God Fellowship Church, 16350 S. State St. The burial is set for St. Casimir Cemetery, 4401 W. 111th, Chicago.