TAMPA — There was only one thing Becky Luttrull wanted for her four children.
"She wanted us all to accept Christ as our savior," said her daughter, Donna Gallops. "Some of us took longer than others. But she never gave up. She kept after us."
Mrs. Luttrull passed away July 9 from complications from surgery. She was 78 years old.
She had lived her entire life in Tampa and was grounded in her faith. Her favorite Bible passage was Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."
Her birth name was Gladys Beck, though everyone called her Becky. She grew up near Sligh and Rome avenues, which at the time was on the outskirts of Tampa. She would have to walk all the way to Florida Avenue to catch a bus. Her father was a prominent labor mediator. She and her mother worked together at a small store the family owned near MacDill Air Force Base, where military men often stopped in for lunch.
"She'd make the hamburger patties, and her mother would always tell her she was making the patties too big," her son Steve said. "My mother would say, 'But the men are hungry.' "
She attended Hillsborough High School, where she was an honor student. After graduation she attended Trinity Bible College in Pinellas County, where she met her husband, Leonard Luttrull.
Just weeks after they married, the Army sent him to Korea. He was gone for two years — longer than they had known each other before their wedding. When he returned, they moved to a neighborhood near Rowlett Park, where they raised their four children.
She worked a variety of jobs over the years, including a stint as a baggage handler at the Greyhound bus station. She once got in trouble with her superiors for helping an African-American woman with her bags. Even though she had been raised in the segregated South, she never bought into racism, her kids said.
"In fact, she was disgusted by it," said her son Doug.
She spent most of her working life at Tampa General Hospital in the purchasing department. She worked there for nearly 30 years, retiring just four years ago, when she was in her 70s.
In the mid 1960s, after a cerebral hemorrhage, her husband's behavior became erratic, Doug said. Concerned for her younger children, who still lived at home, she reluctantly divorced her husband. He moved back to Indiana, where he had grown up, but she always made sure her children kept in touch with him, bought him presents on Christmas and his birthday, and considered him part of their lives.
Decades later, after he had recovered and remarried and then was widowed, he moved back to Tampa.
He used a wheelchair and needed someone to help care for him, so Mrs. Luttrull did.
"We had divorced in 1976 due to very dire circumstances," she wrote to a friend. "But the Lord gave me the privilege of caring for him before he died."
Besides her daughter Donna and her sons Steve and Doug, Mrs. Luttrull is survived by her son Michael and four grandchildren.
Marty Clear writes life stories about Tampa residents who have recently passed away. He can be reached at [email protected]