Inside ETV Endowment

Leaving a Legacy: The John Covington and Robert Lukey Fund

John and Robert on the Accademia Bridge in Venice

Just weeks before the pandemic hit in 2020, Robert Lukey, a long-time ETV Endowment member, shared that he was starting to work on an estate plan to honor the memory of his late husband, Dr. John Covington. 

This legacy gift is wholly a reflection of John and Robert’s shared passion for the performing arts and travel so I would like to start by introducing these two special men. John L. Covington, Jr., a native of Kingstree, SC, was a dental student at MUSC when he met Robert at one of the restaurants Robert owned in Charleston. For many years, John practiced in Myrtle Beach, which eventually became their home, before a 15-year battle against scleroderma. Robert J. Lukey, a native of South Africa, has lived in London, New York City, North Carolina and Charleston and had a long and varied career as a journalist, marketer, restauranteur and educator. John and Robert were together for a total of 36 years, having married on October 10, 2015. 

After losing John in January 2020, Robert became intrigued and inspired by the ancient Hindu belief that a person’s memory lives on as long as that person’s name is spoken. Robert decided to translate this tenet into an estate plan that would honor John’s memory and their shared enthusiasm for the arts.  Though COVID kept us from meeting in person for more than a year, Robert and I began a long but extraordinary series of phone calls and emails that would lead to the creation of a special legacy fund that will resonate for decades to come.

The John Covington and Robert Lukey Fund for the Performing Arts provides generous support for existing South Carolina arts programming, such as Chamber Music from Spoleto Festival USA and Sonatas and Soundscapes; nurtures the development of local, original South Carolina arts programming; supports events to complement SCETV’s and SC Public Radio’s programming; and supports our PBS membership, which allows us to bring world-class programs like Great Performances to audiences all across our state. 

It is an incredible honor to have Robert entrust John’s memory to the Endowment and to be a part of his ambitious and big-hearted efforts to support performing arts. When I asked Robert how it felt to create such a meaningful estate plan, he shared that it has given him “solace in the knowledge the legacy of our relationship will be contained in scholarship, performing art sponsorships, and research grants.” On a personal note, both Coby Hennecy and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Robert through our calls, emails and long-awaited visits! He has become a very special member of our Endowment family, and we look forward to hearing his riveting stories for years to come!

Rachel Chesser
Director of Planned Giving

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