Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Luke A. Riopel, SMSgt. USAF (Retired)September 29, 1941 – December 10, 2011
Luke A. Riopel 70, of Tucson, AZ, formerly of Hugo, MN., passed away peacefully and unexpectedly on December 10, 2011 surrounded by his loving wife of 48 years and their four adult children, after complications associated with a newly diagnosed cancer.
Luke was born on September 29, 1941 in Hugo, MN., to Jerry Riopel and Marie Belland. He graduated from Forest Lake High School in 1959 and then enlisted in the US Air Force, where he served for 23 years before retiring in 1982. He was stationed at Davis Monthan AFB in 1980, where his love of the southwest and its warm, sunny weather eventually drew him to retire and reside permanently in Tucson. After retirement from the military as a Vietnam Veteran, Luke spent a short time working in the AZ State Prison System before becoming employed full time with the US Postal Service. He remained employed by the postal service for 20 years and retired in 2003.
In 1963, Luke married the love of his life, Mary Tennison, of Albuquerque, NM. Together they were the couple to emulate. Luke cherished Mary, and his example provided a wonderful model for their friends and family. No one could match the sense of humor or passion of Luke, nor could they tame them! It was Luke’s quick and spontaneous wit that kept life with him lively and entertaining. He was loved and respected by his many friends, co-workers and siblings, as well as by his children and grandchildren. His nine grandchildren, who were the joy of his life, affectionately called him “PaPa”. Luke had high expectations of his children and grandchildren, yet he was patient, loving, selfless and strong for them, and especially for his grandchildren. They will all miss his lightheartedness and great sense of humor.
Luke was predeceased by his parents, Jerry and Marie Riopel, and an infant sister, Mary Monica Riopel, and by his infant daughter, Michelle Marie Riopel, an adult nephew, Christopher Chavez and an infant nephew, Noah Riopel. He is survived by his loving wife, Mary (Tennison) Riopel; two sons, Paul Riopel (Heather) and Charles Riopel (Maria); two daughters, Emily Sandoval (John) and Amy Demrovsky (Michael); nine grandchildren, Andrew Cole, Caitlin Riopel, Ashley Riopel, Jacob Riopel, Zachary Riopel, Luke Sandoval, Elizabeth Sandoval, Macey Demrovsky and Oliver Demrovsky; 10 siblings, Florence Marsh (Edwin), Regina Proulx (Richard), Eugene Riopel (Pamela), Amelia Weatherson (Harold), Wilfrid Riopel (Katie), Lorraine Houle (Raymond), Boniface Riopel (Lorie), Cyril Riopel (Paula), Marie Voegele (William), and Jerald Riopel; many nieces and nephews, several aunts and uncles, and cousins too numerous to mention, as well as many special friends.
On Friday, December 16, 2011 at 10:30 a.m. a Graveside Service will be conducted at the National Cemetery in Santa Fe, NM., where Luke’s ashes will be interred next to his infant daughter, Michelle Marie Riopel. In keeping with Luke’s lively personality, he asked that none be sad at his passing, but instead that his life be celebrated.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions to Luke’s favorite charity, The Salvation Army. Memorial contributions may be made online at: https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org/page.aspx?pid=207#tribute
Arrangements by BRING’S MEMORIAL CHAPEL.
~ REMEMBRANCES’ ~
Luke was the DCM for Det. 1, 37 ARRS when he retired. He was an outstanding NCO and Leader!~Glenn McKim
~ GUEST BOOK ~
September 28, 2012Some people leave a mark on others. Many years ago, as a brand new 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force, I was assigned to Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. TSgt Riopel took me under his wing, and taught me about leadership, character, and effective use of humor. He left a mark on me…to the point that I wanted to find him. A Google search today took me to this site. I’m assuming this is the same Luke. If not, please excuse my error. We worked together from 1973-74 (or so). This saddened me to learn that he’s left us and is now with God. You, his family, are blessed to have had him around!~Mike Verzola, Cincinnati, Ohio
December 27, 2011My sincere condolences to the Riopel family. I worked with Luke when we were stationed at Udorn, Thailand doing helicopter maintenance. God Bless you.~AL Peña, Stafford, Virginia
December 22, 2011You are all in my thoughts and prayers, Hugs..~Jacquelyn Horness, Tucson, Arizona
December 21, 2011~Khidjah Blount, Tucson, Arizona
December 21, 2011We send our Love and Support to the Riopel Family.~Brian Pessin, Tucson
December 21, 2011DEAR AUNT MARY WE ARE SORRY TO HEAR ABOUT UNCLE LUKE, YOU AND THE FAMILY ARE IN OUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS. WE LOVE YOU~TAMMIE AND STEVE TENNISON, SAN ANTONIO, Texas
December 21, 2011Luke and I were friends since 1960 when we met at basic training. We later went to Viet Nam together and remained in touch throughout our USAF years. He and Mary were our best buddies, we visit Tucson every spring and will miss him dearly. He will always be in our thoughts and our love and prayers go out to his entire family and all who will miss him as we will. Daryl & Marty Levine, Langley WA~Daryl, Langley WA
December 21, 2011Luke was one of the most up-beat people I knew. He was a joy to be around and we had a lot of laughs and good times together. I will really miss him.~Harold Weatherson, Apple valley, Minnesota
December 20, 2011Luke was a great dad and a very hard worker. His children and his wife came first. Mary and Luke always enjoyed life and had fun.~Shirley Duffy, Tucson, Arizona
December 19, 2011I will miss you, Uncle Luke! You always had a smile on your face and a funny story to tell. You brought happiness and joy to everyone around you. I will always remember the “Mee-mees”……hahhaa….”mee mee mee mee…I think I hear my friends coming!” You were never afraid to be silly! Give Grandma and Grandpa a big hug for me, and be sure to tell your funny stories to St. Peter…he’ll get a big kick out of them! Love you!~Brenda Gamble, Wichita, Kansas
December 18, 2011My sincere Condolences to the Riopel Family. I spent time with Luke when we were stationed at Andrews with 1st Helo. He was a good friend and co-worker. Remember when he retired and went to AZ. May God guide and help you through this sad time.~Jerry Clausius, O’Fallon, Illinois
December 18, 2011My sincere condolences to The Riopel Family. I did not know Luke but as a Member of the US Air Force and Vietnam Veteran I Thank Luke for His Service to our Country.~Andrew B. Gonzales El Paso, Tx. 79907
December 18, 2011The Riopel family: My sincere condolences to you. I did not personally know Luke, but I know that he was my brother in the service or our country as a fellow member of the USAF helicopter family. God rest his soul and May God protect and comfort the Riopel family. Jim Burns www.rotorheadsrus.us~Jim Burns, Navarre, Florida
December 18, 2011Luke….You ALWAYS made work fun. I know you and ‘Snake’ are creating havoc in heaven right now:) God bless you my friend.~Colleen Nuszkiewicz, Edmond, Oklahoma