Tuskegee Airmen, first black air traffic controller in Memphis dies

(WMC-TV) - Lt. Col. Luke Weathers, Jr., a member of the Tuskegee Airmen and the first black air traffic controller in Memphis, died Saturday.

During World War II, Weathers flew into history as a member of the all-black fighter pilot group called the Tuskegee Airmen.

"They never lost a bomber," said his son, Luke Weathers, III.

Sunday, Weathers, III showed off a computer filled with pictures of his father's life.

In 2007, Weathers, Jr. and many other Tuskegee Airmen were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their bravery in battle and the determination it took to excel in a segregated military.

"He portrayed the example that if you want to do it, you can," said Weathers, III.

The man who some called "Big Luke Weathers" was a starting quarterback at Booker T. Washington High School, a Memphis businessman and the first Memphian to get accepted into the pilot program at Tuskegee.

"He had a presence about himself where he was in command without saying I'm in command," said Weathers, III.  "His presence alone displayed that."

Returning home after the war, there were no jobs for black pilots.  Weathers, Jr's knowledge of flying would come in handy when he got the chance to become the first black air traffic controller in Memphis.

Weathers, Jr. was enjoying retirement in Tucson, Arizona when a series of health problems began about three years ago.

"It just took a toll on his body and he couldn't take it anymore and he passed in his sleep," said Weathers, III.

Family members are planning a funeral for Weathers, Jr. in Memphis.  He will be buried with honors at Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Weathers, Jr. died at age 90.  He is survived by five children.

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