Ruth A. Lucas was the first African-American woman in the Air Force to be promoted to the rank of colonel. At the time of her retirement, she was the highest-ranking African American woman in the Air Force.
Colonel Lucas enlisted in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) in 1942 and was one the first black women to attend what is now the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, VA. She held a variety of positions, mainly in research and education, before being named a colonel in 1968.
At the time of her promotion, Colonel Lucas was a general education and counseling services assistant in the office of the deputy assistant secretary of defense for education at the Pentagon. She created, organized and implemented special literacy programs aimed to increase the education levels of service personnel.
Colonel Lucas retired from the Air Force in 1970. After her military retirement, Colonel Lucas continued her efforts in education and became the director of urban services at the old Washington Technical Institute. She designed outreach programs to encourage high school students to pursue higher education. In 1994, retired after serving as the assistant to the dean of UDC's College of Physical Science, Engineering and Technology.
She recently passed away at the age of 92 on March 23 at her home in Washington. Her accomplishments were honored during her funeral services May 29 at Arlington National Cemetery. Her military decorations included the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.