Richard Joseph Lutton

Published 3:55 pm Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Richard Joseph Lutton passed away in peace on Nov. 27, 2023, at the age of 93. He was preceded in passing by his wife of 55 years, the late Gladys Bodron Lutton of Vicksburg.

Richard was born in 1930 in Portland, Oregon, to parents Wayne and Ruth Lutton.

He and his older brother Bob grew up in the “playground” of the Pacific Northwest, enjoying picnics and hiking trips on the coast and in the forests of the Oregon Coastal Range.

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Richard carried treasured memories of this childhood and his beloved home state throughout the rest of his life, inspiring his lifelong love of the outdoors and rock collecting.

These interests and his academic commitment led him to study geotechnical engineering at the Colorado School of Mines.

He later earned a master’s degree in civil engineering and a doctorate in geology from the University of Arizona.

After school, the Navy sent him to New Jersey and Washington DC and his graduate studies saw him doing field work across the Western US, but it was Vicksburg that became his home when, in 1963, he took a position with the Waterways Experiment Station (now ERDC). In Vicksburg, he met and fell in love with Gladys and they were married in 1966.

They quickly started a family and made Vicksburg their home.

As a devoted husband and loving father, Richard prioritized family over all else and could almost always be found with Gladys at his children’s swim meets, tennis matches, school activities and music concerts.

Dr. Lutton worked at WES until his retirement in 1994, contributing engineering research in support of a wide range of national projects for the Corps of Engineers, the EPA and other federal agencies. He authored numerous reports and manuals on topics such as rock mechanics, construction blasting methods and secure disposal of hazardous materials.

He co-authored a lengthy report analyzing slope failures along the Panama Canal that won the 1978 Award for Applied Research from the U.S. National Committee for Rock Mechanics.

After retirement, Dr. Lutton continued to study the material properties of the thick loess soil at Vicksburg, which had been a professional and personal area of interest for years.

His last technical paper was published in 2009 and dealt with incremental subterranean movements accounting for minor shifts in the bridges at Vicksburg. Dr. Lutton loved being a geologist.

On any family trip he would pull over the car to “read the land” for his children, grandchildren, or any other available audience.

He cherished the memories of field trips with his grandchildren to search for rocks and fossils, explore the riverbank and enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors.

Dr. Lutton was a longtime member of St. George Orthodox Church and he served intermittently on its Parish Council.

He was also a member of Sons of the American Revolution Vicksburg Chapter, as well as several professional engineering societies.

He is survived by his daughter, Mary Dawn Murr (Michael) of Houston, Texas; sons, Robert Lutton of Vicksburg and Chip Lutton (Jennifer) of Menlo Park, California; grandchildren, Liam and Trey Lutton and Maria Gagan; his sister-in-law, Louise Brantley; and many cousins nieces and nephews.

Funeral services for Richard Joseph Lutton will be held at St. George Orthodox Church at 11 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 1, with Fr. Gabriel Karam officiating.

Visitation will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday at St. George Orthodox Church. In lieu of flowers, any memorial donation may be made to St. George Orthodox Church or another charity.