Heart of the Mission: Ilo Louck

Posted On: Wednesday, 17 April 2024

Born in Collins, Ohio, Ilo Mae Louck recently celebrated her 109th birthday, making her possibly the oldest American Legion Auxiliary member in the country. Her bright blue eyes and sharp mind immediately engage you in conversation. Still able to walk, she comes to the monthly BIG Pancake Breakfast at Allingham-Golding Post 18 in Silver City, N.M., regularly. There, she is surrounded by her friends and admirers for at least an hour. Legionnaire Bill Harrison, a 101-year-old World War II veteran, happily is not the oldest person in the room for a change. 
Louck lives in a log cabin with family, two sheep, two goats, a dog, and a number of wild animals that wander through the property. She inspires all those around her.
Who made your ALA membership eligibility possible? 
My husband, Robert G. Louck, served in the Pacific in World War II, and was my sponsor when joining the ALA. Bob was an Army Air Corps archivist; his role was to identify and catalogue the deceased, then ship the bodies back home for burial. 
Why did you decide to join the American Legion Auxiliary? 
I wanted to support all the people who were doing so much for our country. They give up three or four years of their life for us. One of my childhood memories is of a local man who was gassed in World War I; he gave so much for us. They need more from us to get back their lives.  
A lot of your family served in the military. How has that shaped your life?
My father served in the National Guard, and four of my brothers served in World War II — two in the Army, and two in the Navy. Of course, I wanted to help out too. I worked at a munitions plant in the nurse’s office during the war. For most of my life, I have been taking care of people. I’ve worked as a nurse’s aide in people’s homes, and for many years I worked in a nursing home. Somewhere in there, I spent a few years as the school lunch lady. My son Gerry calls me “a selfless person who loves this country.”
As one of our oldest ALA members and still active in your post home, why do you feel it is important to stay connected to the Auxiliary and our mission of serving veterans, military, and their families? 
The need to serve others never changes. And when you are helping others, you are helping yourself. My husband’s career meant we had to move frequently. I’ve lived in Wyoming, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Florida, among others. Each time I moved, I would connect with the local American Legion Auxiliary. It was an extension of the family.
What would you say the secret is to longevity and good health?
My daily exercise routine. Keeping strong muscles is vital. Don’t forget: The heart is a muscle! I just don’t sit still. In addition, my family lived on a farm and we never had chemicals. Essentially, I was eating organic food long before it became popular. I still eat a well-rounded diet of simple, whole foods. 
What are some of your favorite activities or hobbies?
I like to paint. My room is decorated with my paintings of flowers. My favorite painting is one of the white house that my nine siblings and I grew up in. I also enjoy crafting holiday decorations for the table.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 
When I was 4 years old, my mom wrapped me in a blanket and ran out of the house with me in the middle of the night. The house was on fire! It burned to the ground. My family and I were forced to live in the shed outside for a time. My mother said, “Just keep going forward. Don’t look back” in response to our predicament. That advice has carried me through many of life’s toughest times.

ALA Mission

In the spirit of Service, Not Self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and Country, we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security.