John Lucas, emeritus professor, dies

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- John Lucas, professor emeritus of exercise and sport science in the College of Health and Human Development’s Department of Kinesiology, died on Friday, Nov. 9, after a year-long battle with Lewy body dementia. He was 84.

Lucas was the head track and field coach at Penn State from 1962 to 1968. He then became a professor in the College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation (now the College of Health and Human Development).

Since 1952, Lucas had documented and researched the modern Olympic games, amassing a collection (162 cubic feet) that is unparalleled outside the official International Olympic Committee (IOC) holdings. In 2010, he gave this collection to the Penn State University Archives. He attended 14 different Olympic games, starting with the 1960 games in Rome.

Lucas is the author of four books, including "The Future of the Olympics" (1992) and "The Modern Olympic Games" (1980), as well as over 200 articles on the subject. He was named the official North American historian for the Olympic games by the president of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch. In 1991, Samaranch appointed Lucas the official Olympic lecturer. In that capacity, Lucas has delivered over 500 lectures in the United States and abroad. In 1996, Lucas received the IOC’s highest honor, the Olympic Order gold medal.

Lucas was married in 1955 to Joyce, and the two remained together until her death in 2010. He is survived by his son Mark of Columbia, Mo.; his granddaughter Katie; and his grandson Matt.


Last Updated January 10, 2015