Luke was born the youngest of three sons to Alexander Atkinson and Carolyn Bear Waldrop of Roanoke. He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Harriett, and his second wife of ten happy “Golden” years, Anne “Dickie” Dickson Jordon Waldrop; his brothers, Alexander Atkinson Waldrop, Jr. and John Bear Waldrop; and his grandson, Adam Thomas Waldrop.
He is survived by his six children, Kathryn Kerkering (Tom), Fincastle; Caroline Buckman Haddock, Lexington, Kentucky; Louis Stephens “Steve” Waldrop, Jr. Salem; Preston Adam Waldrop (Jamie), Roanoke; Harriett Ann Waldrop, Richmond; Laura Doub (Bruce), Richmond and Roos Delesie Peeters (Fons), Mechelen, Belgium, (an American Field Service (AFS) exchange student who became another daughter); 13 grandchildren and two step-grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.
Luke attributed much of his success in life to his mentors, friends and the headmaster at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Mr. Flick Hoxton. With the death of his father when Luke was 14, Mr. Hoxton served as a supportive father figure, believing in Luke’s self-worth. From here, he matriculated to the University of Virginia, where he thoroughly enjoyed himself.
Like many, Luke left UVA, joining the war effort to serve as a medic in the Navy in the Pacific theater. He was on the island of Okinawa when the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan. He returned to UVA to complete his degree where his love and his allegiance to UVA never wavered. The friends he made became his soulmates for life. Post World War II, he met and married Harriett, a senior at Mary Baldwin College, delaying her formal graduation for 40 years due to the arrival of their first child.
Luke’s first job in Richmond was “pushing pencils.” He quickly realized that he needed to support his wife and two daughters and moved back to the Roanoke Valley to Wiley Court in Salem. Through his brother John, Luke met R.L. Russ in 1952, who taught him the rules of selling and buying real estate.
Luke opened his own company, L.S. Waldrop Realty, in 1956. Although he grew up in Roanoke, he spent most of his career developing properties in Salem, eventually being recognized as “The Man Who Built Salem.” Developments included, among others, Middleton Gardens, West Club Forest, Woodbridge, Spartan Square, Salem Terrace at Harrogate, Caroline Forest Apartments and over 900 single family homes.
Together, Luke and Harriett passed along the strength of their joint and individual values, not only to their immediate family, but to others whose lives they touched. Numerous real estate agents in the Roanoke Valley got their start under their tutelage. His integrity, enthusiasm and can-do spirit encouraged them to succeed. He expected only the best. Luke loved the thrill of “making the deal.” It truly was one of his greatest enjoyments. He was known for leaving his business cards everywhere he went. He was a true salesman who continued to work well into his 90’s.
By honoring the institutions and principles to which both Luke and Harriett adhered, they taught by example the steadfastness of commitment to what they held true: love of family, honesty, church and community and patriotism. Higher education was not only valued for immediate family but also for others, as evidenced by endowed scholarships and contributions to Roanoke College, Mary Baldwin College, Virginia Western Community College, the University of Virginia (UVA) and Episcopal High School. One of Luke’s proudest contributions was the funding of the L.S. Waldrop/T. Evans Wyckoff Jefferson Scholarship at UVA. This scholarship is awarded for exceptional performance in the areas of leadership, scholarship and citizenship.
Apart from work, Luke was an avid sports enthusiast, and enjoyed history. He consistently supported St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, serving as an elder. As an active member and one time president of Salem Rotary, he lived by the credo of The Four Way Test. Luke actively encouraged Roanoke County, Roanoke City, and Salem to work together, through his leadership on the Roanoke County Planning Commission.
Luke was known for his candor, his unique sense of humor, as well as his loyalty to causes he cherished. Everything about him accentuated his individuality; the ever present classic coat and tie (bowtie in later years), worn even to breakfast. He never met a stranger. Luke would strike up a conversation with everyone in elevators, dining rooms and checkout lines. Within minutes, he would know everyone’s name, family connections and place of origin.
A member of the “Greatest Generation,” Luke rose to meet the challenges of the Great Depression, WWII and the technological revolution. He never lost sight of his principles.
The family wishes to convey gratitude to the staff of Salem Terrace at Harrogate, where he lived out his final years and to his caregivers, especially Jackie Early, Crystal Brewer, Marie Young and Deborah Dobbins. Thanks also to Allison at Friendship Manor Home Care and Stephanie and Sidney at Home Instead for providing staff to fill his needs. A very special acknowledgement goes to Good Samaritan Hospice, recognizing Venessa Stosser as his nurse care manager in his final months.
A graveside service will be held at Evergreen Burial Park, 1307 Summit Ave, SW, Roanoke on March 27 at 1:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations to the following would be appreciated:
Salem Food Pantry, 915 Union Street, Salem, VA 24153
YMCA of Virginia’s Blue Ridge, ymcavbr.org
Rescue Mission Ministries, 302 4th Street, SW, Roanoke, VA 24013, rescuemission.net
Good Samaritan Hospice, 2408 Electric Road, Roanoke, VA 24018, goodsam.care