Friday June 2, 2006

Bro. John Lucier Dies at 88

Bro. John Lucier, S.M., a former UD chemistry chair, dies at 88; The funeral Mass will take place at UD's Immaculate Conception Chapel on June 3.

A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 3, at the University of Dayton’s Chapel of the Immaculate Conception for Brother John Lucier, S.M., former chair and distinguished service professor of UD’s chemistry department. For nearly 60 years, Lucier was a daily presence on campus, earning a reputation as one of UD’s most respected and popular professors. He died May 26 at the age of 88.

A viewing will take place from 9 to 10 a.m. in the chapel. The Mass will be followed by internment at Queen of Heaven Cemetery at Mount St. John, 4435 E. Patterson Road.

His colleagues remember him not only as a great scholar but also a visionary for combining the sciences with the arts.

"Bro. John Lucier was a scholar, a scientist, a dedicated teacher and a man of faith,” said the Rev. James L. Heft, S.M., University professor of faith and culture and chancellor. “In the 1960s and 1970s, when the University of Dayton began to become a nationally recognized Catholic university, John was in the forefront of many of the campus debates, including those on general education and academic freedom.

“As a member and later chair of the chemistry department, he insisted on a language requirement for all chemistry majors, a requirement that still stands. He loved the German language, and took great care in writing for the Province newsletter clear and thoughtful reflections on recently deceased fellow brothers. I was privileged to live with him for 11 years at Alumni Hall on campus. ”

Born in Detroit in 1917, Lucier credits the Great Depression with motivating him to join The Society of Mary (Marianists), a Roman Catholic religious order of brothers and priests. He came to Dayton at the age of 13 to attend Mount St. John Preparatory School and professed first vows as a Marianist in 1934 and perpetual vows in 1939. He graduated from UD in 1937 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.

After teaching high school chemistry in Cincinnati, Dayton, Cleveland and Minneola, NY, Lucier returned to serve at his alma mater. He taught for two years before attending Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve) in Cleveland, where he received a doctorate in chemistry.

He returned to UD in 1951, and for the next 45 years devoted himself to science as a professor of chemistry. He served as chair of the chemistry department from 1964 to 1980. During his tenure, Lucier worked on a nuclear testing project with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base called Operation Upshot-Knothole, in which he devised temperature-measuring devices to gauge the effects of the atomic bomb. As a result, he was invited to witness A-bomb testing in the Nevada desert.

Lucier also conducted scientific research in the field of infrared spectroscopy, a powerful tool used in organic chemistry to study organic compounds. He published research and presented papers at several national and international scientific meetings. He was a member of the American Chemical Society’s governing council and patent law committee. He also was active in other professional science organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society of Applied Spectroscopy, the Coblentz Society, the Chemical Society of London and the American Association of University Professors. Lucier published articles in a number of professional science journals.

At the age of 86, he was still giving tours and relating the history of the UD campus to students. A special point of interest on the campus tour was the Brother John J. Lucier Instrumentation Center, a UD science laboratory named in his honor.

During his many years in the classroom and more than 70 years as a Marianist, Lucier felt relationships were key. As a teacher, he promoted interaction in the classroom and challenged students to come to class prepared so they could ask questions. In 1984, he wrote, “Through education, we reach great numbers of souls, and we do so in some depth. All the preparation, the years of study and the daily hard work are worth every minute of it.”

For more information, contact Linda Robertson at 937-229-3257.