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More than Luck: A couple creates a charitable remainder trust to benefit their family and Massey

Nov 29, 2021

Dr. Richard Luck

Donor Spotlight: Giving thanks on Giving Tuesday

One team. One fight. One day of giving.

On GivingTuesday, Massey sat down with Richard “Dick” Luck, Ed.D. (M.S.’68/HP) and his wife, Dudley, to talk about their motivations for giving to Massey and the benefits of establishing a charitable remainder trust to support cancer research.

For Richard “Dick” Luck, Ed.D. (M.S.’68/HP) and his wife, Dudley, building VCU Massey Cancer Center into their estate planning was an easy way to give back to the institution where Dick spent most of his career and that saved his life. Curing cancer takes more than luck. They know that it requires a strong vision and generous philanthropic investment.

In 2019, Dick, who is associate professor emeritus in the Department of Rehabilitation Counseling at the VCU College of Health Professions, was diagnosed with colon cancer, following a routine colonoscopy. At the time, the Lucks were preparing for a trans-Atlantic trip on the Queen Mary 2 with friends. Instead, Dick found himself on a cancer journey that would include laparoscopic surgery, and following a second opinion, treatment and chemotherapy at Massey, where he was treated by Khalid Matin, M.D., hematologist-oncologist and interim chair of the Division of Hematology, Oncology and Palliative Care at Massey.

Matin clearly means a lot to Dick, who displays obvious emotion and gratitude at just the mention of his name. “Dr. Matin was fantastic," Dick said. "He showed me studies about the treatment I was going to get and all of the certificates and everything, so I was very well informed about my options and felt comfortable.”

"I have a husband because of Massey,” says Dudley Luck, Dick’s wife and a two-time cancer survivor herself. “And, that’s a pretty big thing."

It’s a pretty big thing too, they say, to have a nationally recognized cancer center in their backyard.

As a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center, Massey is in the top 4% of cancer centers in the U.S. and a leader in the national fight against cancer. In February 2021, the first lady Jill Biden, Ed.D., visited Massey in her first public appearance outside the White House.

Creating a charitable remainder trust

Dick and Dudley Luck feel fortunate to have a place like Massey in Richmond. But they are doing more than being grateful. 

In 2020, the Lucks joined an increasing number of Massey donors who have built  the center into their estate planning by adding Massey as a beneficiary to a charitable remainder trust.  They own real estate and wanted flexibility in their estate planning that would support their own retirement, including their love for travel, while also allowing them to support both their family members and charitable causes near and dear to their hearts.

“Dudley and I had already established a charitable remainder trust in our estate planning,” Dick says. “Our trust has two parts: it has a family share and a community share. It was easy enough for us to add Massey to the charitable remainder trust, and that’s what we did.”

Charitable remainder trusts are estate planning vehicles that are funded with cash, securities, real estate or other appreciated property and managed by a trustee of the contributor’s choosing. They provide a lifetime income stream for the donor, as a fixed amount (annuity trust) or as a percentage of the value of the trust (unitrust), with the accumulated principal or “remainder interest” gifted to the designated charity at the time of death.

Early involvement in a lasting legacy

Luck’s affiliation with the cancer center extends back to its earliest years. In 1976, Massey’s founding director, Walter Lawrence Jr., M.D., invited Dick to represent the VCU Department of Rehabilitation Counseling on an advisory council working on exploratory and preliminary grants.  “It was [part of] a desire to consolidate things and to make [Massey] a major center, not just a local or regional hospital or academic hospital, but to have a national presence,” Dick said. “And, that’s what they did.”

Lawrence passed away on November 9, but is remembered as Massey’s first visionary leader and for being ahead of his time in promoting equality and equity (as highlighted in this memorial story and video).

“I remember Dr. Lawrence not only as a wonderful physician and tenacious researcher but as a genuinely personable, kind and caring individual,” Dick says. “I recall frequently having lunch in the Campus Room on the MCV campus, and often Dr. Lawrence would come in. I swear, he would stop to speak and visit with almost everyone in that crowded cafeteria, and I worried that he would ever get anything to eat.”

“I was honored to have had the privilege to work with Dr. Lawrence in the early days of Massey,” he added. “His vision and impact continue to be felt at Massey, by patients and donors, to this day. He will be missed by everyone in the Massey community, including me.”

Robert A. Winn, M.D., Massey’s current director and the Lipman Chair in Oncology, is continuing Lawrence’s legacy with a bold vision for Massey and for a future without cancer, and a strategic plan that includes expanding its clinical trials program, recruiting top new talents from across the country and a quest to become an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Lucks Kenya trip Left to right: Dick and Dudley Luck, their guide John, and Tom and Sue Sanne in Kenya in Fall 2019.

Little things make all the difference

The Lucks were inspired to give by Matin and the entire team at Massey. It’s the little things that made all the difference, they say. As a clinical psychologist, Dick knows the importance of treating a patient’s emotional wellness too.  “I know that for a fact, as people’s anxieties and stress levels go up, they aren’t as good patients and don’t recover as well as they could if they weren’t stressed,” Dick says.
Matin understood this, the Lucks say. They had already cancelled the trans-Atlantic crossing trip, and had additional plans for a trip to Kenya in the fall of 2019. It was something the Lucks could look forward to, and Matin worked with them to help make it happen.

“I was concerned about [not being] able to take that trip,” Dick says. “Dr. Matin wouldn’t commit, but the closer we got to finishing up the chemotherapy, the more positive he got. And so finally I got it out of him to say, ‘Hey, you’re okay to go.’” 

It was a trip of a lifetime, and they brought Matin back a little carved elephant from Kenya, of which he seemed to be very appreciative.

“Dr. Matin said, ‘an elephant is one of my favorite animals.’ It had symbolism that was important to him," Dick said.

The appreciation they received for their charitable gift also made an impression. VCU and VCU Health System president Michael Rao, Ph.D., reached out personally to thank the Lucks for their generosity, a gesture that went a long way, say the Lucks. “Dr. Rao called me one day, and I just was so impressed that he took the time,” remembers Dick. “We’ve given to other organizations, and sometimes you get a letter, sometimes you don’t, but not a phone call from the CEO.” 

Looking ahead

With Dick’s treatments completed, the couple is looking forward to leaving cancer — and COVID-19 — in the rearview mirror, and to enjoying more quiet days at home. 

“We’re country people,” Dudley says. The Virginia natives love spending time outdoors, with their Llewellin Setter bird dog, Levi, and at their property, which overlooks a small pond in the Goochland countryside. They are visited daily by geese, osprey, an eagle that comes and goes, a great blue heron, ducks and deer – lots of deer. They had triplet deer fawns last year, which is unusual.  “What I like to do is hunt, fish and hang out,” Dick adds. Levi is recovering from a broken leg, and they are looking forward to getting back outside together.

They’ve also changed their diets and are advocates for the importance of regular ongoing cancer screenings.

“This is the most important thing that I am going to tell you, or anyone that has anything to do with listening to me,” Dick quips. He started getting colonoscopies at age 45, “like a good soldier,” he says, every 10 years and then every five years. “Fortunately, when my cancer was discovered, it had not progressed very far.” He is now under evaluation with lab work every three months and scans every six; so far, everything is clear.

The Lucks are grateful to VCU and to Massey for the top-notch care that saved Dick’s life, and are proud to be supporting Massey’s vision for a future without cancer.

"A future without cancer; that’s just a great goal, no question about that."

“It means you wouldn’t have important people missing in your life – or in the worst-case scenario, missing part of your own life,” Dick says. “And it means not having to take the time and effort… [to] be treated for cancer. That’s not a walk in the park.”

The Lucks are also excited to stay updated on what is happening at Massey, including touring the new Massey Cancer Center at the VCU Health Adult Outpatient Pavilion, which will open on December 6 and brings cancer and hematology services together in one light- and hope-filled space, with floor-to-ceiling windows and simple wayfinding to make getting and parking there easier.

The Lucks plan to keep in touch with Matin.

And; they have that trans-Atlantic voyage to plan and look forward to.

Written by: Katherine Layton

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