Born in Whittier, California, on September 5, 1966, Lucas attended Biola University and Seattle Pacific University. He was awarded a B.A. in Music in 1994 and earned a Masters in Music degree. He would go on to receive his teaching certification from Central Washington University in 2001.
As the Director of Instrumental Music and Performing Arts Department Chair at Woodinville High School since 2001, Lucas instruct-ed students from the Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, Marching Band, and Rock Guitar. His work won him numerous awards, including the 2006 Who’s Who Among American High School Teachers award and a 2004 National Society of High School Scholars “Educator of Distinction.”
Lucas hailed from a family with a musical past, his great grandfather was a music teacher and his mother was a choir director.
Lucas died following injuries he sustained on vacation at Laguna Beach in California, July 20, rescuing four swimmers from a rip tide. He leaves behind his children and wife, Deborah, with whom he celebrated his 30th anniversary with earlier this year.
According to Mrs. Lucas, Lucas was a teacher who always pushed his students to do their best, and showing people that music was fun too.
“Music was not just his passion, but I believe it was his purpose, just showing people that music is an awesome thing,” Lucas said. “You don’t always have to be serious when you’re doing it. You don’t always have to be this classically trained person to be able to love and really enjoy music.”
According to Mrs. Lucas, her husband loved to play plenty of mainstream music – including Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” – which attracted students from every walk of life.
“He didn’t do boring ‘Three Blind Mice’ stuff,” Lucas said. “He would do rock hooks that would have lead chords that would be for specific songs that people would recognize. He made that class really interesting for people. That really expanded the experience of music to people who would not have otherwise tried it.”
Like his colleagues, Lucas encouraged his students to embrace their school’s competitive spirit, often fundraising travel opportunities to musical competitions across the state and even Canada to flex their musical muscles. However, Mrs. Lucas noted that he always made sure that was done through positive energy.
“He found a lot of purpose through teaching music,” Lucas said. “He wanted to make sure that people had a great experience, even if they were in the other band [he and his band] were playing against.”
Inglemoor High School music coordinator, Ted Christensen, recalled Lucas as a quality music student when he first met him in the fall of 1983 as a band teacher at Inglemoor Senior High School.
Eric Lucas, a trumpet player at the time, was someone who Christensen described as a leader by example who was always passionate about playing his favorite instrument – a passion he translated to his students when he went on to teach band himself.
“I would say that Eric was probably one of the greatest music educators in our state right now,” Christensen said. “We have lost a really, really good music teacher.”
“He built a really great program here at Woodinville, very conscientious, his students love him, and his work was of the highest caliber. He also had a real knack for teaching guitar.”
Rick White, Northshore Middle School’s music director, knew Lucas for roughly the past 20 years and his wife knew Lucas since childhood, who he says considered a “little brother.” The Whites frequently shared family time together and remember Lucas as an active community member who brought joy to his neighbors and peers.
“[His students] saw him as a living example of the health and happiness that music provides to people,” White said. “It was contagious, just contagious.”
“He gave the kids major opportunities to reach out and go for probably a lot of times things they didn’t even know they were capable of doing,” White said. “It was always kids first.”
Mr. Lucas’s funeral will be held at Bothell’s Pop Keeney Stadium at 2 p.m., September 10th.
The family has a GoFundMe campaign for the estimated $500,000 medical costs of Mr. Lucas’s care.