University mourns the sudden passing of William "Bill" Lucas '69


 

Image: Bill LucasFairfield University today is mourning the death of a long-time friend and former employee. William Lucas '69, retired vice president for finance and administration died on Thursday, Nov. 4. He was 63.

University President Jeffrey von Arx, S.J., said, "We as a community are deeply saddened at the news of his untimely death. All of us who knew Bill will remember him as a man who was passionate about the Jesuit vision for the university. Bill Lucas contributed greatly to the growth of Fairfield and led with dignity, a quiet strength, and great devotion, not only to the institution's financial health but also to its people - students, faculty, staff, and extended family."

Lucas devoted his entire work life to Fairfield, beginning after his freshmen year when he landed a summer job in the accounting department. In 1969, he received a bachelor of science degree in accounting, and in that same year was named director of financial aid. In 1972, Lucas was promoted to the position of university controller. He continued his education, and five years later, Lucas received a master's degree in finance from the University of Bridgeport.

In 1983, then University President Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., named Lucas vice president for finance. Dedicated to keeping Fairfield's fiscal health strong, Lucas was responsible for overseeing a wide range of responsibilities of the finance office, including supervising the departments of payroll, the bursar, accounting, purchasing, the physical operations of the university, and human resources. University officials said through Lucas' stalwart nurturing of the school's finances, Fairfield doubled in size and operated within a balanced budget for 34 consecutive years. For his outstanding effort, the Fairfield University Alumni Association honored him with Fairfield University's Distinguished Administrator Award.

Mark Reed, vice president of administration and student affairs, said for most of the 40 years of service Lucas gave to Fairfield, he was the glue that held things together and the key that made all other parts work. He enabled a young institution to achieve things that much older institutions were not able to. "There have been several individuals in Fairfield's history who already do and will forever rank among the 'giants.' I think most historians of Fairfield will agree that Bill is one of these individuals," Reed said.

A Trumbull, Conn., resident, Lucas was not just a chief financial officer but also a mentor and a good friend to many Fairfield employees. "He understood higher education administration broadly. He did more to advance student life and the academic mission of Fairfield than people will ever know," Vice President Reed added.

Bill Lucas was a leader, and in many ways his talents were utilized far beyond his administrative duties at Fairfield. He was an officer of the Center for Financial Studies, a member of the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Student Loan Foundation, a member of the Advisory Board of the Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority and he has participated on Visiting Committees for the New England Association of Schools. He is the former vice president of the Connecticut Hemophilia Foundation and served on the Lay Advisory Board of Mt. Sinai Medical Center. University officials said Lucas lived the Jesuit mission of education for the whole person - mind, body, and spirit. "He was exemplary for his behind the scenes service, always without fanfare, to the students, faculty, and staff of Fairfield University," an official said.

A longtime sports enthusiast, Lucas considered himself a 'keeper of memories.' He loved to collect old-time baseball autographs and had a passion for Fairfield Stags' basketball games. Friends close to Lucas say he was a big sports fan. He is survived by his wife, Janet; two children, Jonathan and Jennifer; a son-in-law, Chad Crowther; and a sister, Dorene Lucas.

Friends may visit with family on Monday, Nov. 8 from 4 to 8 p.m. at Pistey Funeral Home, 2155 Main Street, in Stratford. A funeral service will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 11 a.m. at Fairfield University's Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola.

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Media Contact: Mark Gregorio, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, mgregorio1@fairfield.edu

Posted on November 5, 2010

Vol. 43, No. 107