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John William Lucey
John William Lucey died at home on November 6, 2023, at the age of 88. He had been living with the challenges of pulmonary fibrosis for the last few years of his life. John was born in the Station Hospital at Fort Banks in Winthrop, Massachusetts on August 21, 1935 to John Frederick and Margaret Anastasia (Doyle) Lucey, the first of five remarkable siblings. His father served in the Army Corps of Engineers. Because of the travel associated with his father’s military career and then his career as a civil engineer, John (known as Jack to his immediate family) spent parts of his childhood in Massachusetts, Nebraska (where he is reported to have kept a look out for the Lone Ranger on the plains west of Omaha), and Schenectady, New York, where he attended Nott Terrace High School. He attended the University of Notre Dame on a Naval ROTC scholarship from 1953 to 1957, graduating with a BS in Chemical Engineering. While at Notre Dame, he met Nancy Therese Brozovich, of Whiting, Indiana, who was studying music education at St. Mary’s College–a blind date that led to a rich 55-year marriage that began on August 31, 1957. Shortly thereafter he set out for San Diego to report for duty in the Navy. John and Nancy’s first two children, Josephine Ann (David Puziol) and John Michael (Gerry Gómez) were born in California during John’s years of active Naval service. Thomas Andrew Lucey was born in Arlington, Massachusetts while John was pursuing doctoral studies at MIT. Christopher William Lucey (Teresa) was born shortly after John and Nancy returned to South Bend and John took up a teaching position in Notre Dame’s College of Engineering Dept. of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. John retired from Notre Dame in 2004. His beloved wife, Nancy, died in 2012, but his four children survive him, as do seven grandchildren: AJ (Lauren) Puziol, Katie Puziol, Patrick, Clare, and Colleen Lucey, Hannah (Matt) Griffin, and Benjamin Lucey, as well as one great grandchild, Mason Griffin. His brother Richard and sister Margaret (Peggy) Coughlin preceded him in death. He is survived by his brother, William, and his sister, Mary Lou Hoskins.
When John and Nancy moved in 1965 to the house in the Harter Heights neighborhood of South Bend that would be his home for the rest of his life, they quickly involved themselves in the CCD program of Sacred Heart Parish on the Notre Dame campus. Their children, their children’s education, their faith, their love for each other, for family, for teaching, and for Notre Dame (including sports!) were at the heart of the rest of John’s life.
Travel was an important part of education for John and Nancy’s children. He himself traveled widely during his two years in the Navy, and his children remember fondly the many postcards he would send them when he traveled for work, even if it was only as far as the Argonne National Laboratory, where he conducted research in his early years at Notre Dame. Along with regular summer trips back east to see family, John would frequently take the family with him to ANS or ASEE summer conferences (oh the joys of a cramped station wagon!) in places like Annapolis or Colorado Springs or Seattle, with carefully planned (and fondly remembered) itineraries there and back, including stops at various National Parks and Monuments.
His children also remember fondly and gratefully all the books he read aloud, the books and records he had around the house (including the Firestone Christmas albums that came with the new sets of snow tires), various Heathkits built together, endless rides to games, music lessons, concerts, and rehearsals, help with homework, and general kinds of advice.
Notre Dame was in many ways at the heart of John’s life. As a professor, he participated in many different parts of its academic mission, including his contributions to Nuclear Engineering and a long association with the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society, which he served in many capacities over the years. He helped run the Industrial Assessment Center that aimed to improve energy conservation for small industries. He was especially proud of co-founding and developing the College of Engineering’s Summer and Fall London programs, which provided so many engineering students with the opportunity to experience the wonders of a study abroad program. Directing these programs with his colleagues was a highlight of John and Nancy’s year for well over a decade.
A lifelong Red Sox fan, sports were part of John’s life from a young age. He ran cross-country and track in high school and for two years as a Notre Dame undergraduate. His lunchtimes at Notre Dame were spent jogging a few laps with his good friends and sometimes sneaking in a faculty hockey game or two. He played an important role in the early years of South Bend’s Irish Youth Hockey League, coaching some teams that included his children and others that didn’t. There were a few years when, as a Notre Dame hockey fan, he could occasionally be a bit loud in his commentary from the stands. He was a devoted fan of both Notre Dame women’s and men’s basketball, and was, up until quite recently, an official for the Irish’s track and field competitions. Of course, Notre Dame football weekends were always big occasions for the whole family, even up until a few weeks ago, with family coming to stay and experience Notre Dame’s victories and defeats together.
John and Nancy enjoyed travel in their later years, visiting much of Europe, and also making regular trips to the Chicago Lyric Opera and the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. He kept up those Chicago trips as long as he was able, sometimes accompanied by one of his children. His children and extended family supported his travel bug later in life, with return trips to Spain and Italy, to Oxford and London, to Normandy, the Galapagos Islands, and a Danube River Cruise. Closer to home, he also volunteered at the Northeast Neighborhood Food Pantry for many years.
At the end of his life, John was ably cared for at home by the folks from Senior1Care, and enjoyed regular family visits as well as visits from Notre Dame students, friends and colleagues. He kept up a lively interest in sport, politics, and the doings of his children and grandchildren.
Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Monday, November 13, at 9:30am on the campus of the University of Notre Dame, followed by burial at Cedar Grove Cemetery, Notre Dame, Indiana. Friends may visit with the family from 3-6 pm, on Sunday, November 12th, at Kaniewski Funeral Home, 3545 N. Bendix Drive, South Bend, Indiana where a rosary will be prayed at 5:45 pm.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in his name to the Northeast Neighborhood Food Pantry, 803 N. Notre Dame Ave., South Bend, IN 46617. (Please make checks payable to the Northeast Neighborhood Council.)
You may leave condolences for the family at www.kaniewski.com