ATHENS — The College of Arts & Sciences Notable Alumni Awards honor alumni for broad career accomplishments, commitment to community service, and valuable contributions to Ohio University and the College of Arts & Sciences. Honored as a member of the 2019 Class during ceremonies at Athens on Oct. 25 was Dr. George L. Lucas, 1957 grad, who is now retired from active practice as an orthopaedic surgeon and university professor at the age of 80, but he’s volunteering to get better health-care to under-served communities.
He earned his Medical Degree at George Washington University in 1961 and began his teaching career as a clinical instructor at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals from 1966 to 1969 and was promoted to Clinical Associate Professor from 1975 to 1984.
Lucas then went to the University of Kansas School of Medicine, Wichita, serving as the Clinical Associate Professor from 1984 to 1989 and as Associate Professor 1989 to 1990. He became full Professor in 1990 and is now a Clinical Professor. At the same time, Lucas worked as a prominent hand surgeon, where he received the Distinguish Service Award from the American Association for Hand Surgery in 1978 and 1984. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Lucas was also the Head of the Hand Surgery Branch in the U.S. Naval Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., from November 1968 to August 1969, and was a Private Practice Orthopaedic Surgeon in Bone and Joint Surgery Associates, S.C., in Madison, Wis. From June 1984 to 2015, he worked as a Private Practice Hand Surgeon at the Wichita Clinic in Wichita, Kansas.
In 2017, Lucas published his memoir, Appalachia Boy: A Memoir (Amazon Press) that notes:
"Dr. George Lucas, a hand surgeon in Wichita, Kansas, grew up in Somerton in southeast Ohio, a part of the state firmly located in Appalachia. His father died when George, the eldest, was just 10, leaving his mother with three kids and another on the way. The family was poor – his mother observed it was hard to tell when the Depression began and ended for them – but George, his friends and siblings made their own fun and forged lasting memories. In Appalachia Boy, Dr. Lucas shares the boyhood tales that helped shape him,"
Coming from humble beginnings, Lucas recalls the time when he had to work to earn enough money to attend Ohio University, where he earned a B.A. in Biological Sciences from the College of Arts & Sciences.
He worked at the Health Center, running all sort of Jack-of-all-trades errands. It was there where he met Dr. John Calhoun Baker, the 14th president of OHIO, who served from 1945 through 1961.
Due to his hard work and perseverance, Lucas completed his degree in 3 ½ years and got married on the day of graduation in 1957.
During his time pursuing his Medical Degree at George Washington University, Lucas worked as a lab technician at an inner-city hospital, while his wife worked as a nurse. According to Lucas, his next big milestone was serving as a Navy doctor during the Vietnam War. He was drafted in 1967 and assigned to the Navy, serving as the Chief of the Orthopaedic Service at the Naval Hospital in Memphis.
"I worked very hard patching up soldiers, mostly Marines, who had been wounded in Vietnam," he said.
After a career spanning over more than 50 years, Lucas continues to volunteer for community outreaches locally and internationally. A 1952 graduate of Barnesville High School, he was honored by his hometown community in 2002 when he was inducted into the Barnesville Area Education Foundation Hall of Fame.
"I have been a staunch advocate for Project Access, a service of our medical society to help poor people get into better health care system, and continue to see patients at a clinic for the underserved," he said.
Currently, he is, in his own words, "trying to be an artist," enjoying the simple pleasures of painting, sculpting, and writing. He and his wife, Ellie live in Wichita, Kan.