Ernst A “Ernie the Can Man” Lucas

Ernst A “Ernie the Can Man” Lucas

Birth
Austria
Death 17 Jan 2004 (aged 68)
East Lansing, Ingham County, Michigan, USA
Burial Cremated, Location of ashes is unknown
Memorial ID 94959781 · View Source
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Ernst "Ernie" Lucas spent his earliest years in a village about 25 miles from Vienna, Austria. As the Third Reich became more of a threat to many Europeans, Ernie's parents, with their four children, came to the United States as refugees. They all became U.S. citizens in 1945.
His father and mother, Eugene and Margaret, settle with their children, Anne, Jack, Alexander and Ernst, in East Lansing, Michigan, where Eugene became a professor of horticulture at Michigan State University. The youngest child Ernie remained in East Lansing most, if not all, of his life.
He attended East Lansing High School, and then he received a bachelor's degree at Michigan State University. He chose an uncommon life-style: instead of finishing graduate school or using his degree to begin a typical career, he made gathering cans and bottles his career.
Some people looked down on him because they thought he was a 'bum', but it would take only one conversation with Ernie to crush that inaccurate and unkind label. He was very intelligent and a wonderful conversationalist on many subjects, and he made his living on his own through hard work.
Despite being recognized by thousands of people over the decades, he died as he lived - alone. His body was found after a neighbor reported that he hadn't been seen for a couple of weeks. The cause of death is believed to have been hypothermia. His exact death date is unknown, but his official death date is the day his body was found, January 17, 2004.
Even though few people knew him closely, he was well-loved and he never would have been cold if any of us had known. He wasn't the kind of man to ask for or accept charity though and he would have refused it, unless it came in the form of cans and bottles he could gather and return for refunds.
He will always be remembered as someone who brightened the days of many people, whether with a big smile, a fun quip, or a great conversation. We can see him now riding away on his bike with that smile!


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  • Created by: dialynna
  • Added: 7 Aug 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 94959781
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Ernst A “Ernie the Can Man” Lucas (3 Aug 1935–17 Jan 2004), Find A Grave Memorial no. 94959781, ; Maintained by dialynna (contributor 47103413) Cremated, Location of ashes is unknown.