Livingston ‘Libby’ James Lanning
December 23, 1924 – July 28, 2018
Livingston ‘Libby’ Lanning is no longer among us. His physical presence left this world at 4:32 PM in hospice at Evelyn’s House, his wife of 66 years Marilyn at his side.
He was born in St. Louis to Beulah McCall who raised him and his sister Valerie as a single parent. He lived at various places in the city of St. Louis and attended Blewett HIgh School.
He was a veteran of the United States Navy and Arnie’s’ Army, although he enlisted in Arnold Palmer’s army and “selected” the US Navy.
In 1943, at the Armed Forces Induction Center in St. Louis, he was asked by an induction clerk, “Which service do you want, the Marine Corps, the Army, or the Navy?”
“I’ll take the Marine Corps,” Libby replied.
“Sorry, the Marine Corps is all filled up. Which service do you want, the Army or the Navy?”
“I’ll take the Army.”
“Sorry, the Army is all filled up. Which service do you want?”
“Then, I’ll take the Navy.”
He was trained as a signalmen at the University of Chicago, served for nearly three years in both the European and Asian theatres, mostly on Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) ships. He separated from the Navy in 1946 as a first class petty officer. Libby never had an actual father. He only saw his biological father a couple of times in his life, and he credited the US Navy as his father figure. He was a bit of a slacker in his youth and the US Navy “unslacked” him and instilled in him the values of comradeship, duty, and service.
He enlisted in “Arnie’s Army” in the early 1960s when he played his first round of golf with his friend Lawrence Murphy in Jacksonville, IL. He served in Arnie’s Army from that time on playing golf until two years ago when spinal stenosis no longer enabled him to play the game and by all accounts was honorably discharged from Arnie’s Army. He played golf courses all over the country from Scott Air Force Base to Callaway Gardens.
After the WWII, he worked several jobs: a telegrapher and all around job substitute for the Wabash Railroad, as a file clerk for the Veterans Administration where he met his wife Marilyn, and the Aeronautical Chart and Information Center and the Defense Mapping Agency now National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) as a negative engraver creating maps or charts for strategic and tactical military operations and weapon systems. He became a supervisor and retired after 35 years.
Besides golf, he loved jazz and big band music. He was a Louis Armstrong fanatic. He spent many nights at the Barrel Bar on Delmar Ave. or weekends on Howard Street in Chicago listening to jazz. Libby even made his own speakers, tuners, and amplifiers from kits and constructed high fidelity rooms in the basements of his homes to listen to his collection of records, tapes, and CDs.
Some but not all of his notable life events are:
During an intermission of a Miles Davis performance at a small club in St. Louis (might have been the Barrel Bar), Miles Davis walked through the spectators. He admired Libby’s tie clip and asked Libby several times about giving it to him. Libby refused however, but he probably should have given it to him because his son lost the tie clip at a wedding reception years later.
He had a handkerchief belonging to Louis Armstrong in a plastic case in the high fidelity listening room of his basement. Louis Armstrong, who sweated profusely, gave it to him during the intermission of one of his performances in St. Louis. As Louis Armstrong walked among the patrons, Libby asked him for it and he obliged. Obviously, Libby made optimum use of intermissions.
As the Japanese retreated from Tianjin, China during WWII, his LCI ship took soundings of the river and bay areas and he became one of the first members of the Allied forces to enter the city.
He once dumbfounded his in-law relatives who grew up on farms when he hypnotised a chicken at a family reunion in rural St. Charles County.
He also was involved in the creation of charts for the NASA space missions Projects Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab. This included lunar charts for Apollo missions.
At the age of 90, after two hip surgeries on the same hip, the second one a resurgery of the first, he demolished a rotting deck on the side of his house and built a replacement.
Probably his greatest attribute is he could make people laugh. He was often described as a “character,” for he had a shrewd wit that he maintained even as pancreatic cancer mobbed his body and wrecked his physiology. In his last days at Missouri Baptist Hospital, a minister came to his bedside and asked him if she could say a prayer for him. He paused for a moment then deadpanned, “Sure, I may as well get my money’s worth. Have Blue Cross pay for it.”
His commitment to his wife was inviolable, and he loved his children unconditionally. If he had played a round of 18 then drank a good lager (not Budweiser it gave him a headache), smoked a cigar, had his buddies or family around him with jazz music in the background something like Struttin’ With Some Barbecue” by Louis Armstrong, he wouldn’t need to go to heaven. He’d already be there.
He was the son of Beulah Louise (Stushel) McCall (deceased) brother to Valerie (Lanning) Matusiak (deceased) and brother-in-law to John Matusiak (deceased).
He is survived by the following:
Wife Marilyn (Wessel) Lanning Ballwin, Marthasville, MO
Daughters Melissa (Douglas) Miller, Fenton, MO, Wendy (Denny) Kammer, Kirkwood, MO. and son Byron (Leslie) Lanning, Oak Park IL
Half sisters Phyllis Lanning (California), Grace (Lanning) Hartman and half brother John Lanning
Nephews Dan (Faye) Matusiak, O’Fallon MO, Chris (Debbie) Matusiak, St. Charles MO
Grandchildren Emily (Ollie) Coleman, Concord Village, Bridie (Miller) Smith, Fenton, MO, Molly (Matt) Strauman, O’Fallon, MO, Mary Clare Kammer, Kirkwood, MO, Joe Kammer, Kirkwood MO, and Lydia Lanning, Oak Park IL.
Great grandchildren Ella, Jase, Eiza, Leela, Elizabeth (Libby), and Devin.
Visitation is this Sunday, August 5th from 1-4 pm at LiUNA Event Center, 4532 S Lindbergh Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63127. A Memorial service will start at 4. Dinner to celebrate his life following.
In lieu of flowers the family is requesting donations to be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
1500 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 200
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266