After meeting with University of Virginia Army ROTC personnel more than 50 years ago, a Mississippi man has left his entire estate to the program, bequeathing around $410,000 for scholarships. Deward Houston Luttrell Jr. of Iuka, Mississippi, a welder by profession, had been a U.S. Army military policeman stationed in the Pentagon in the early 1960s when he came in contact with the UVA ROTC program.
Moffett will present a check to Lt. Col. Mark Houston, commander of the Cavalier Battalion, during Saturday’s UVA vs. Duke University football game, which marks Military Appreciation Day.
Luttrell, who died of natural causes in June 2014 at age 72, had no immediate family, was never married and had no children, Moffett said. He had one sister, Linda Gail Finch, who preceded him in death, as did his parents. He never attended UVA.
Moffett described Luttrell as “eccentric,” “pleasant” and very nice to the lawyer’s staff, bringing them books and small presents on the few times he would come to visit. He was shrewd in his dealings and he apparently remembered the kindnesses that the ROTC cadets and officers showed him.
“This is a good lesson for the cadets to learn,” Houston said. “When they are leading soldiers, they can show a little compassion as part of their leadership. It is about building relationships. The cadets he encountered would have been about the same age he was. Through this, cadets can see that the littlest thing can leave a lasting impression.”
“They took him down to UVA and he was very impressed with how well he was treated.” - Army Reserve Maj. Gen. T.K. Moffett (retired)
Luttrell lived in a house he inherited from his parents, Deward Houston Luttrell Sr. and Colene S. Luttrell. He was a 1959 graduate of Tishomingo High School in Tishomingo, Mississippi, where he served as class president his senior year.
“He lived a simple life,” Moffett said. “He loved his guns. He had a bullet hole in his pick-up truck from the inside going out. He was apparently cleaning one of his 9 mm pistols and it went off, putting a hole in his truck.”
Moffett said Luttrell collected guns, including a Belgian Sweet 16 over/under shotgun that fetched around $1,000 at auction.
Luttrell was in the Army from 1961 to 1964, with another three years in the Army Reserve, then pursued a career in welding after he left the service. In 1974, he received a technical degree in Industrial Electricity and Welding from the Tishomingo County Area Vocational Technical Complex, and in 1989, he completed an additional vocational course in the same field.
“He was one of the best around and could weld anything,” Moffett said. “He did a lot of work with his hands.”
Moffett said Luttrell approached him in 2010 about his estate, Moffett believed because of his military connections. Luttrell, who lived alone, suffered from diabetes and entered a nursing home several weeks before he died, Moffett said. As the executor of Luttrell’s will, Moffett auctioned off his property and put the money in the estate.
“You never know, when you are nice to people, how it will benefit you or your organization,” Moffett said. “Deward marched to his own drummer and he was a little odd, but he remembered the only people he thought were nice to him.”