In Memoriam: David Lucas

David Lucas
David Lucas


David James Lucas, loving husband, father, brother, and friend passed away Wednesday, December 16, 2015.

Dave was born August 23, 1953 in Ironwood, Michigan to the late John and Alice (Cirolini) Lucas. He married Marsha (Erickson) Lucas on June 2, 1979 in Ironwood, Michigan. Dave graduated from Luther L. Wright High School in 1971. After obtaining his Associates degree from Gogebic Community College in 1973 he completed his Bachelors degree from Michigan State University in 1975.

He earned his Master’s degree at Michigan Technological University in 1977. Dave began his professional career at Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York before returning to MTU where in 1986, he was the very first person to earn a PhD in Physics.

He took a position in the Physics Department at Northern Michigan University, becoming tenured and promoted to associate professor in 1991. During sabbatical at Argon National Laboratories, in 1992-1993, Dave was able to research and co-author a paper with a Nobel Prize winning physicist. After returning to NMU, he became full-professor in 1997, Pre-Medical/Pre-Health Professional Advisor in 1998 and head of the Physics Department in 2001 where he touched the lives of countless students while guiding their career paths. He was named a Northern Michigan University Distinguished faculty member in 2006 and an “Outstanding Alumni” from Gogebic Community College in 2013.

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2 responses to “In Memoriam: David Lucas

  1. My first reaction to learning this is stunned amazement. The first thought that comes to me is how friendly and even joyful Susan’s and my meetings with them were during occasional trips to Marquette.. To us, Marsha and Dave Lucas felt like family.

    Dave was my first Ph.D student at MTU and though his focus was on molecular calculations of nitromethane with me, he had to listen to plenty of discussions on atomic physics (there was no one else to talk to at MTU at the time). Dave told me then that he was learning atomic physics from those talks in addition to his molecular work.

    Dave’s calculations were state of the art- using large amounts of computer time on the VAX 11-750 and involving complicated data preparation because of the complicated nature of the solid state structure. His work identified a potential effect which could cause explosive materials to detonate uncontrollably. To date, that work is still very competitive.

    Dave’s performance as a faculty member and administrator at NMU is outstanding I am sure. Others can provide details better than I.

    To close, I will just repeat that I (we) feel as though we have lost a family member.

    Donald Beck, Professor

  2. I was deeply saddened to learn about Dr. Lucas’s passing. During my time at Northern Michigan University studying Music, he was not only my Physics professor but also one of the most compassionate and patient individuals I’ve ever encountered. There’s a distinct memory etched in my mind from an exam where I approached a problem from a unique angle. Instead of dismissing my solution outright, Dr. Lucas invited me to his office hours to discuss my approach. He even encouraged me to seek validation from my Calculus 2 professor. While the outcome of that particular question is a bit foggy in my memory, what’s incredibly clear is the friendship that blossomed from that interaction.

    Years later, when I transfered to Michigan Tech for computer science, I was pleasantly surprised when Dr. Lucas and his family paid me a visit. Witnessing his son take his first steps at my apartment is a cherished memory I hold dear. Admittedly, I haven’t been the best at staying in touch, but the gratitude I feel for his unwavering support during a time of uncertainty knows no bounds. Dr. Lucas’s impact on my life extends far beyond the classroom, and his kindness will always be remembered fondly.

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