Tracy Lusk and his wife Jane, above, were both devoted fans of the University of Mississippi and supporters of the School of Engineering through the Woods Order.

With a great sense of loss and sadness, the School of Engineering learned that Tracy Wallace Lusk succumbed to illness on June 22, 2010. Lusk’s devotion to The University of Mississippi and the School of Engineering was a thread that ran through both his professional and private life. He and his late wife, Jane, were often seen at university events, and if these visits were too infrequent, then a social visit was in order. Both were always welcome visitors.

Lusk was born in 1926 in Woodville, Miss., and he graduated from Hazelhurst High School in 1944. He served with the U.S. Army as a paratrooper in World War II and was stationed in Germany immediately after the end of the war. After his Army tour of duty, he attended Copiah-Lincoln Junior College in Wesson, Miss., and entered The University of Mississippi in 1948. At the university, he obtained both his Bachelor of Science in Geological Engineering in 1950 and his Master of Science in geology in 1951. During his studies at Ole Miss, he became lifelong friends with Dr. William Clifford Morse, then chair of the geology department and state geologist.  Morse provided Tracy with the opportunity to be a student worker for the Mississippi Geological Survey, which was headquartered in Ventress Hall. After Lusk graduated, he accepted a position as a geologist working for the Geological Survey in 1952, and in 1958, he succeeded Morse as state geologist. Lusk authored 12 major publications for the Geological Survey, including Bulletin 80, “Benton County Geology,” which was published in 1956. He remained as state geologist until June 1962.

Following his work with the Geological Survey, Lusk worked in private industry, both as a consultant and operator of a sand-and-gravel pit. His private industry work was fundamental to the development of Mississippi’s Cretaceous bentonite resources in Monroe County, and he became much in demand as a clay consultant. He also became known as an expert in the evaluation and utilization of sand-and-gravel resources in Mississippi.

In 1983, Lusk was hired by the Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute (MMRI) as a research associate and worked closely with MMRI’s Minerals Commercialization Center (MCC).  The MCC was a cooperative effort between the MMRI and the university’s business school. Lusk drew on his experience as a mineral producer to guide the business studies and evaluations conducted by the MMC. In 1984, he accepted the position of associate director, working under the direction of the late Dr. Bob Woolsey.  As associate director, he oversaw the day-to-day work of the institute, which included an initiative to characterize heavy minerals in Mississippi’s coastal waters and the formation of a select group to act as technical assistants to the state of Mississippi, as salt domes were being investigated as potential high-level nuclear waste repositories. He retired from this position in December 1992. After retirement, he continued his association with the MMRI, often attending board meetings, and was always available to the institute when the need arose.

Without a doubt, the MMRI, School of Engineering and The University of Mississippi will miss Lusk’s support and enthusiasm. But equally important, Mississippi has lost one of its own—a person who cared for the welfare of the state and the people who live here. Let us remember Lusk for the contributions he made, the leadership he demonstrated and a life that we may well use as a role model.

Charles T. Swann
Associate Director for State Programs
Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute

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