Willis R. “Bill” Lucious, Colonel, USMC, Deceased

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May 1, 1914 – December 8, 2004

Enlisting in the Corps in July 1932 Private Lucius
reported to San Diego for Recruit Training but after less than two months he was
shipped out as a replacement to the 4th  Marine Expeditionary Force,
Shanghai, China and then to a tour of duty with the Marine  Detachment aboard
the USS Tulsa cruising the China coast and the Philippines.

Returning to the States in September 1935 he attended school
at Marine Corps Supply Depot, Philadelphia and following a succession of
assignments and promotions over the next six years he reported for duty with the
2nd Marine Air Group, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in January 1941. He
remained in Hawaii following the Japanese attack on December 7,  and in May
1942, now Technical Sergeant Lucius was transferred to MAG -22 , Midway, Island
as Group Quartermaster. His luck held and he survived the Battle for Midway of
June 4th, ,5th & 6th considered to be the
most decisive Naval Battle in history.


Commissioned a Warrant Officer, Quartermaster Clerk, while on
Midway, and following a succession of Quartermaster assignments and promotions
Major. Lucius reported for duty as Station Quartermaster, MCAS Edenton, North
Carolina in December 1948 where he remained until July of 1950.

Up in Washington, DC President Truman had tasked his
political rival but dear friend President Herbert C. Hover with chairing what
became known as the Hoover Commission which had as its central purpose,
evaluation of the Executive Branch of Government.  Reports and recommendations
to the President and Congress had been delivered in 1949 and by April 1950 the
trickle of recommended changes had become a flood at DOD.

The net results were extensive changes in government which
impacted all Department of Defense Agencies and would place every aspect of
Military Food Service and Subsistence Programs under a microscope for many

The Marine Corps was no exception. For decades the Marine
Corps Manual had assigned responsibility for food service to the Local Commander
and no attempt had ever been made to gain centralized control or establish a
Headquarters authority to direct, coordinate and support field commands in this
critical area. Basically, the Marine Corps had no Food Service Program. No
central or standardized training, no recipe service, Menu guidelines, inventory
controls or reporting requirements and no control over the management of
Packaged Operational Rations or the assignment and distribution of T/O Food
Service Personnel.

Quartermaster General, Major General W.P.T. Hill wasted no
time in directing Lieutenant Colonel R. M. Jetmore USMCR to review and evaluate
the Food Service Programs at Commands along the eastern seaboard. Jetmore had
grown up in a family of prominent restaurateurs in the Washington DC area which
enjoyed an exceptional reputation and therefore was considered to be
preeminently qualified to evaluate and report conditions he would observe.

Lieutenant Colonel Jetmore’s after action report was a clear
indictment of most commands he had visited due to major areas of concern at all
locations except Marine Corps Air Station, Edenton, North Carolina. There Major
W.R. Lucius had an “exceptional” program. “The food was comparable to that
served at any good restaurant, production was planned so that food was fresh and
hot during the serving period and facilities were clean and orderly.”

Jetmore’s report also led to identification of specific
areas of critical need which included Standardized Schools and Training, Menu
Systems, Standardized Recipes, Inventory Controls and Reporting Systems,
Management and Rotation of Packaged Operational Rations and OF 3300 Personnel

Major General Hill sought and obtained “carte blanche”
support from the Commandant, General Clifton B. Cates. He then interviewed Major
Lucius who agreed to accept assignment to Headquarters as the First Director of
Marine Corps Food Service. All knew the challenge was great but with careful
planning and execution the building process could begin.

July 1950 brought Major Lucius orders to the Armed Forces
Subsistence Technology School, Chicago where he also attended night classes and
completed his Bachelor Degree at the University of Chicago. Completing the
prescribed courses of instruction Major Lucius reported to Headquarters Marine
Corps Washington, DC for duty as Director, Marine Corps Food Service in April,

During his tour at Headquarters, Lieutenant Colonel Lucius
did post-graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he
studied ‘Irradiation of Foods” and George Washington University. He is also a
graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, the Naval War College
and is an Affiliate Professor at Northeastern University, Center of Continuing

During his four years and two months assignment at Headquarters Marine Corps major changes were implemented in all areas of the Marine Corps Food Service Program including:
Establishment of  Inventory Control Procedures and Operational
guidance resulting in  improved accuracy and submission of Nonperishable
Inventories Corps-wide

Reduction of  Nonperishable Inventory Levels Corps-wide by 37%

Established standardized multi-level training for all OF 33
Officer and Enlisted personnel.

Established procedures for budgeting, accounting and reporting of

Assumed responsibility for justification of the Marine Corps
Annual Subsistence Budget

Assumed responsibility as the T/O Specialist for Occupational
Field 3300

Developed and Implemented Marine Corps-wide criteria for
authorization of Food Service Personnel

Placed Marine Corps Subsistence under Stock Fund Accounting with
no carryover of unexpended subsistence funds

Improved overall effectiveness of Food Demonstration Teams and
Steward’s Instruction and Demonstration Teams and established the Steward’s
Course of Instruction at MCSS, Camp Lejeune

The Master Menu was overhauled and distributed to field commands
which greatly improved Menu Standardization and Nutritional Guidelines Corps
wide and became the basis for the first Armed Forces Master Menu

Published the Marine Corps Recipe Manual in 1952 which formed the
foundation for the Marine Corps Recipe Service and the Armed Forces Recipe

Participated in development of the Armed Forces “B” Ration and
conducted initial “B” Ration Menu and Ration testing at Vieques

Assumed responsibility for Packaged Operational Rations and
established command level Accounting and Monthly Reporting requirements to
ensure timely and efficient rotation of Packaged Operational Rations on a two
year cycle

Initiated on site US Air Force Veterinary Inspection Program at
three major Marine Corps Installations

Represented the Marine Corps on the Hoover Commission (1954)

Represented the Marine Corps before the Research and Development
Associates of the Armed Forces

Completing his assignment at
Headquarters Marine Corps on June 15, 1955 Colonel Lucius reported to Marine
Corps Supply Depot, Barstow California for duty as Commanding Officer, Service

In December 1955 when he learned of Colonel Lucius’ plans to retire on March 1, 1956, General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Commandant of the Marine Corps during most of the Colonels tour at Headquarters Marine Corps wrote on 27, December, only four days prior to his own retirement after almost 39 years active service:

“I would like to offer again my congratulations upon the many improvements that have been effected in food service within the Marine Corps in recent years. No one has contributed more materially to this field than yourself.”

Colonel Lucius retired on March 1, 1956 after more than twenty four years service. His personal decorations include the Bronze Star with combat “V”, Air Medal, Army and Navy Presidential Citations, Secretary of the Navy Commendation Medal and the Republic of the Philippines Presidential Citation.

Following his retirement he acted as a consultant on dehydrated and convenience foods for such firms as General Foods, Coca Cola and American Food Company.

Named Healdsburg California’s
“Citizen of the Year – 1969” he was elected Mayor of Healdsburg  in 1972, 1974
and 1978 and in November 1986 he was selected by the City Council to complete
the last two years of the incumbent Mayor who had become too ill to complete his
four year term. At the conclusion of this his fourth term as Mayor, he chose not
to run for a fifth term but was named Healdsburg’s “Mayor Emeritus” by his
fellow councilmen.

He is past Chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the regional transportation planning agency for nine Bay Area counties and, as the longest serving original commissioner, from 1971 to 1991, was honored with the title “Commissioner
Emeritus” upon his retirement in January 1991. He is a former Director of the
League of California Cities and a past Director of the Golden Gate Bridge,
Highway and Transportation District.  He is a former Regional Vice-President of
the Redwood Empire Association and past Chairman of the Mayors and Council
Members’ Association of Sonoma County. He is a past Director of the California
Special District’s Association. He is a former Commissioner of the State Highway
User Tax Study Commission. Recognizing his keen interest and extensive
background in multimodal transportation, Governor Regan, in April 1973,
appointed him to the then newly-formed California State Transportation Board. He
served as its Chairman from 1995 to June 1977.

He served as a member of the West Coast Corridor Study Steering Committee that involved an analysis of problems with reference to inter-state rail travel. He is a past member of the Governing Boards and Legislative Committee’s of the American Public Transit Association.

Again recognizing his vast expertise in his chosen field, the Secretary of Transportation, Elizabeth Dole, with concurrence from the White House, appointed him to the newly formed Section 15, Urban Mass Transit Administration (UMTA) Advisory Committee. UMTA’s only advisory committee, consisting of fifteen individuals from throughout the United States representing elected officials, labor and the private sector. He is a
past member of the Board of Directors—the Marine Memorial Club of San Francisco
and its President from 1982 to April 1985. In October of 1984, the Administrator
of UTMA honored him along with the Governors of New Jersey and Indiana with
UTMA’s Outstanding Public Service Award. In October 1990 a 22.3-mile stretch of
U.S. 101 from south of Healdsburg to the Sonoma/Mendocino county line was named
the Colonel William R. “Bill” Lucius Highway. This designation came in response
to legislation (SCR 73, Kopp) which recognized Colonel Lucius’ many
contributions to transportation at all levels of government. In February of 1991
he was appointed to the newly established California Department of
Transportation (Caltrans) District 4 Advisory Council and was elected its first
Chairman serving an unprecedented three year term. On 27 September 1994 the
American Public Transit Association at its annual meeting, in Boston, inducted
him into its prestigious “Transit Hall of Fame” acknowledging his many
contributions to transit at a local, sub-regional, regional, state and national


He was a member of the Bay Area Lone Sailor Memorial Committee that erected a monument at Vista Point adjoining the Golden Gate Bridge. It is a memorial to everyone who ever sailed out of the Golden Gate Bridge in the service of their country – in the Navy – the Marine Corps – the Coast Guard or the Merchant Marines.

Lone Sailor Memorial

As further testament to his un-ending commitment and loyalty to everything Marine, at the age of 88 Colonel Lucius traveled more than two thousand miles from his home in Northern California to New Orleans, Louisiana to  participate in dedication of the
Colonel Willis R. “Bill” Lucius Scholarship Program established in his
honor by the US  Marine Corps Food Service Association. During the
dedication, Colonel Lucius personally presented the first USMCFSA Colonel Willis
R.”Bill” Lucius Scholarship Award to Mr. William Shane Thurston of Woodbridge,
Virginia. Shane enrolled as a Freshman at Shenandoah University, Winchester
Virginia in the fall of 2003 and is currently in his Sophomore year.

Colonel Lucius (seated)
Shane Thurston (standing, left) and Shane’s grandfather, Major Don Ritenour,
USMC (Retired) (standing, right)

On the Colonels passing,
his grandson Kevin Rosa wrote:

“Colonel Willis R. Lucius was of a bygone era that spoke plainly, directly and with
perfect clarity. In today’s world of political correctness and guarded
discretion, his genuine nature was a beacon. You always knew what he thought or
how he felt for he was not afraid to tell you.

Many called upon his character to take charge and lead the way, because they knew they could count on him. He accepted the role entrusted to him with dignity and thrived
upon obligation. However, nothing was more important to him than showing respect
and gratitude for kindness afforded him.

As a proud Marine, true to his very core, he reveled in his association with the privileged
few so duty-bound and honor-driven, who shared his sense of discipline, order
and responsibility. He was and will always be forever faithful.

I will remember the leader, the diplomat, the dignity that was Bill Lucius. And in a
private moment, when the noises of life have quieted, I will have another Cognac
with my grandfather to thankfully salute him for the dear comforts he’s provided
those that knew him, as well as the less fortunate who never will. The comforts
of stability, structure and order that are far too often taken for

-Kevin Rosa, Grandson”

Members of the US Marine Corps Food Service Association echo the sentiments of the Colonels grandson and we salute this exceptional Marine who created a legacy for
countless others who have followed in his footsteps. He touched the lives and
hearts of all who knew him and will be sorely missed.


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