A friend of a friend-Jeff Lucas-and- Jeff Frederick-March 11

One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for March 11, 2015.

My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.

I first met my friend Dr.Jeff Frederick in 2003 when he arrived at UNC Pembroke as an assistant professor in the history department. He was married with three small boys and at that time lived in our Tanglewood neighborhood in Lumberton, NC.  Those three boys were all active in sports and that meant our two families crossed paths.

At first the friendship was more of professional acquaintances than friends. I would see Jeff playing basketball in the noon faculty/staff games and I liked the way he mixed it up in the paint with some of our younger coaches. As Director of Athletics I would also see him at UNCP baseball and softball games on spring afternoons and we gradually began to get to know one another better.

In 2005 his middle son Jack and my youngest son Mack both turned eight years old and we found ourselves as volunteer coaches in a youth coach pitch baseball league. The head coach was Tommy Forrest who had a son named Raleigh who was also on that team called the Mets.

In the photo below Jeff can be seen on the back row left and I am on back row right. Tommy Forrest is on the middle of the back row. Our little team won the league championship.

Coach Pitch Mets

That spring and early summer in 2005 Jeff and I spent a lot of evenings together on a ball field and got to know each other. That was the point we went from professional colleagues to friends. It is funny that your children often lead you to the best people to call friends.

In the last ten years Jeff Frederick has accomplished so much and also done so much for our students, university, his church, and community. He has been awarded full professorship, been selected in 2014 by UNC Pembroke students to deliver the “Last Lecture”. The link to that presentation is below:

I am happy to say Jeff was appointed the university’s NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative during my tenure as the institution’s Director of Athletics. He has excelled in that administrative capacity. Jeff is one of those teachers who has great leadership qualities. I am quite certain that if he ever decided to leave the profession of teaching he would be successful in a number of leadership careers.

Jeff loves his family and is very proud of them. He carries that over to his work family also. Some of the leadership qualities Jeff possesses recently were on display when he lost a friend and colleague in his battle with cancer. .

Jeff showed empathy, compassion, and personal concern to his friend Jeff Lucas who was a member of the UNCP History Department.


Jeff FrederickJeff Family

The Friend of the Friend-JEFF LUCAS


Jeff Frederick and others commenting on Jeff Lucas

Jeffrey Kent Lucas, 64, passed away at his home on Sunday, March 1, 2015, after a hard-fought battle with cancer. Jeff was born in Seminole, Oklahoma on October 3, 1950 to the late James and Lucille Lucas. He spent most of his childhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma before graduating from Norman High School in Norman, Oklahoma in 1968.

Upon graduation, he joined the United States Air Force and his first assignment was at Phu Cat Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. During a distinguished twenty-year career, he rose to the rank of Chief Master Sergeant and his assignments took him all over the world. His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

During his military career, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Chaminade University in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1987. Upon retirement from the Air Force in 1988, he settled in Waco, Texas and taught at Hillsboro Middle School until 1999. During this period, he received a Master’s Degree in History from Baylor University in 1993. In 1999 he moved to El Paso, Texas and taught middle school Social Studies while pursuing a doctorate degree. In 2006, he earned a PhD in Borderlands History from the University of Texas at El Paso. Jeffrey was the first national hire from the UTEP doctorate program when he accepted a tenured position at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. He taught Latin-American History, was the coordinator for the Undergraduate Social Studies Education program, and received an Outstanding Teaching Award in 2010. Those awards only come about when you are recognized by both your students and peers as being the best of the best and he was.

Jeff was also a scholar who in 2010 got a book published called “The Rightward Drift of Mexico’s Former Revolutionaries: The Case of Antonio Díaz Soto y Gama”. While doing his doctoral work in history at University of Texas El Paso Jeff succumbed to the charm of “borderlands” history. That led to his desire him to write an important book.

jeff lucas book
He is survived by his wife, Julie Lucas; two sons: Nick and Benjamin Lucas; a daughter, Bridgette Williams; a stepdaughter, Kyle Hatfield; two sisters, Sally Depreker and Jennifer Rajoppi; five grandchildren: Isabella and Sophia Williams and Brent, Ashley, and Allison Lucas; and several nieces and nephews.

The UNC Pembroke history department in conjunction with Jeff’s family will have a visitation on Saturday March 14, 2015 from 5-6:00 p.m. on campus in the Dial Building-room 225. The memorial service will take place at 6:00 p.m.

Jeff impacted a lot of students, faculty, and staff. Below you find tributes from two colleagues who won’t be at the memorial service but I expect that theme of being bright and caring will be heard by all in attendance.

From John Paul Nuo-Simi California

I attended the UTEP doctoral program with Jeff a few years before he graduated. In fact we used to share a desk, Jeff was extremely supportive and open with me. We all looked up to Jeff when he graduated and was hired at UNC-Pembroke. His strength, determination, and resilience were deeply inspirational and we took great heart from it.

From James Starling-McAllen, Texas

Jeff was a mentor to his fellow graduate students at the University of Texas at El Paso, and his professional achievements were significant to us. More importantly, he cared for his students and colleagues. We will all miss him.


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