Joe Lucier ’50 was a postgrad student before there was a term for it. Having graduated from high school in Northampton at the age of 16, he decided to attend Williston Academy for two more years. He returned in 1977 with his wife, Priscilla, a 1950 Northampton School for Girls (NSFG) graduate, to inject new vitality into the school’s development efforts. Together, they raised four children at Williston—and also raised the bar for giving.
You were on the varsity football team. What game do you remember most?
Loomis. I was very good at allowing big boys to push me back. But as they pushed me back, I could pull them to one side. I would tell the quarterback which side to send the ball. We’d make yardage anytime we wanted. I’d say to Tommy, ‘Right.’ And a guy would come at me and I’d pull him to the left, and, zoom. I always remember our coach who said, ‘Gee, you don’t seem to be having any trouble out there today, Joe.’
You said you paid your way through Williston. Where did you work?
I used to work at the A&P in Northampton. I could walk in there and work anytime I wanted. When I was playing football, I didn’t work. The manager would put my time card with his and didn’t want me to lose my status. He would plug me in for so many hours a week and pay me. I was a good worker. I worked for them for 11 years.
Did you attend school dances with NSFG?
I used to go to NSFG on the weekends and go to a dance. My wife was going to school there as a day
student at the same time, but I never met her. We met at UMass. She was the president of Kappa Kappa Gamma and I was in Phi Sigma Kappa, and we finally met our senior year. We got married a year later. We’re celebrating our 60th wedding anniversary. What’s the secret? I married the right woman.
When you began working at Williston, how did you change the way the school approached development?
I asked people to ask people. We made a rule that no one would be asked to be on the Board of Trustees until we got a financial commitment from them. That changed the giving pattern of the board tremendously. If the board isn’t interested in the success of the school, who the hell is? Then we started working on Reunion classes. We’d get people to make $1,000 gifts, and at that time it was a major gift.
How did it feel to receive a Distinguished Service Award in 2004?
I was pleased because they thought I had done a good job. I used to look at that chart of [other recipients and] I never thought I would be on it. It was a great gift to me. Also, I want you to know, my wife [Priscilla] was in the office and she ran the office. She was a big item in that office. I got the rewards, but she was the person running the show.