I have known Luke Wirkkala for almost 15 years. I’m married to his sister, and Luke is a wonderful brother-in-law. My wife and I lived in Washington when Luke lived in Astoria, Oregon and Bend, Oregon. Luke’s is kind hearted, generous, very approachable, thoughtful, and much of the time he is frequently is smiling and laughing. I don’t know if he gets this from his writing skills, college days, or life experiences, but he’s articulate and colorful. His memory is keen and he can remember much of his childhood days with many adventures to tell. Luke was a logger in his much younger days working along with his father (they have a very close relationship) and then achieved his goal of obtaining a BA degree in journalism. He wrote many articles and took photos for a local business in Astoria, Oregon around the very historic towns Chinook, Washington and Astoria, Oregon.
Luke always has interesting conversations and funny jokes anytime you talk with him. During his late 20s and 30s he had two very nice female partners, both serious relationships. After departing from his first girlfriend Luke found himself another very nice, articulate, generous and giving woman, Rachel, who lived in Astoria, Oregon. They quickly formed an emotional bond. They had the same interests, likes and dislikes and goals — to be happy in life. Rachel had a son that Luke became very attached to and suddenly they found themselves living in Bend, Oregon with their small family of three. Living in Bend was a dream come true.
Luke was teaching Rachel’s son how to snowboard and all three loved living in Bend because the people were wonderfully nice and caring, the scenery was beautiful, the activities were plentiful, Bend and cleanliness went together, and there was never any negative issues. My wife and I visited them in Bend a few months before Luke found himself behind bars for defending himself against David Ryder. At the time we visited them, Luke, Rachel and her son were loving the area, the people and all the activity in the area.
At no time in my 14 years knowing Luke did I ever witness him in a situation that he became angry, expressed violence, or threatened another person. He had a very calm disposition. He was this young man who wanted to experience the world (in fact, he spent several months in his younger years traveling around Brazil and loving the culture), enjoying meeting many people in his travels, laughing, smiling and living a life of tranquility.
No one should have to experience the trauma that Luke is still going through. The world would be a better place with him as a free man in it. Luke deserves to heal the wounds inflicted on him by our justice system, and to get back to his life of journalism, photography, strong friendships, and nature.