Friends and family remember Jon Lucks, a 2006 GW alumnus, as a caring, smart and brave person who inspired those around him. He died at GW Hospital Feb. 27. He was 25 years old.
“He was an incredibly courageous kid,” his father, Michael Lucks said. “Everyone’s dad says that – and everyone has the right to be proud of their kids – but honestly, I didn’t understand where his hope and courage came from.”
Though he suffered from spina bifida, a birth defect that paralyzed him from the waist down, Lucks never complained about his condition or the adversity he faced on a daily basis, many of his friends said.
“The memory I have of Jon is a kind, good person and a great friend,” said Emmanuel Caudillo, a friend and coworker of Lucks’. “Jon was a person who was always happy to see you, always asking how you were doing and always ready to listen. I respected him very much.”
He grew up in Malvern, Pa., and graduated from St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in 2001. At GW, he studied English and political science.
In addition to being a National Merit finalist and a Presidential Scholar in high school, Lucks made the Dean’s List while at GW. Outside the classroom, Lucks worked for Rep. Kurt Weldon (R-Pa.) and was one of the youngest interns at the Cato Institute in 2003. In 2007, Lucks spent a short time working for the Coke Foundation.
Paul Ryan, a friend, cites Lucks’ humor as one of his greatest qualities.
“He was a huge Eagles fan and he used to call me up and leave me a message spelling out the word E-A-G-L-E-S and then hang up,” Ryan recalled. “I will remember a lot of little things that aren’t going to be there anymore. They’re small, but in the end they add up to be Jon.”
At the time of his death, he had been doing research at a D.C. law firm and had recently taken the LSATs with hopes of going to law school.
Lucks had a passion for literature, philosophy, politics and Irish music. His family describes his political views as libertarian and remember him as always willing to talk about current events and his favorite authors.
“I remember when he was two-and-a-half years old we had a Christmas party,” said his mother, Mary Lucks. “I had invited all of my English teacher friends, and one of my friends had picked up a book on Robert Frost. She asked Jonathan if he knew who he was. Jon was standing there on his little crutches and he recited the whole poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ for the room.”
She added that her son always inspired her with his diverse talents and qualities.
“He was one of the wittiest people I ever met,” Mary Lucks said. “He was a mediocre student but an incredibly smart kid. He was a great writer and he had a great love of life.”
Chris Ross, a bartender at McFadden’s and a close friend of Lucks’, said he was always happy and brightened the lives of those around him.
“I’ve known Jon for four years now, and I can tell you I always saw him with a smile on his face,” Ross said. “He touched so many peoples’ lives.”
Ryan added, “On Thursday morning I woke up and realized that this will be the first morning that Jon will wake up wherever he is and be able to walk. I can just see him running up and down hills and leaping around. He’s probably having a ball.”