Remembering Lucas Shanker
Lucas Shanker, a computer science major at Purdue University, died on May 2, 2018. Lucas was the co-vice president of ACM SigApp and webmaster of Purdue’s Outing Club. He previously served as the principal cellist in Purdue’s Philharmonic Orchestra.
Below, read reflections from two of Lucas’s friends and fellow computer science majors.
From Jordan Pitlor
Lucas was an amazing person, and words just don't do it justice. No matter how many anecdotes you hear, nothing could compare to the experience of being his friend (which, because of how friendly he was, is synonymous to knowing him). He never hesitated to help others, and he always had a smile on his face, ready to solve whatever challenges came his way.
I can say this even though I only knew Lucas for a year of his life as my co-vice president in ACM SIGApp because he was always dedicated in everything that he did, and he impacted everyone that knew him.
In SIGApp, every year, we have a meeting to brainstorm ideas for projects to work on for the semester. This past year, Lucas suggested that he had been working on the beginnings of an app that would send you notifications when your favorite foods were being served in the dining courts, and that he'd be interested in making the app a club project. This resonated with me because although we offer this every year, nobody has ever actually offered their side project to the club. Even after we started working on it, Lucas always listened to the input of everyone working on the app, from the president down to the least experienced member. He would help everyone who ever had a question or a weird bug without hesitation.
In the 4 days following Lucas's death, I attended a celebration of Lucas's life hosted by the Purdue Outing Club, and Lucas's funeral hosted by his family in St. Louis. In both of those events, it became clear to me that even though I had spent a year with Lucas and had already seen what a great person he was, my experiences had barely scratched the surface.
I listened to Outing Club members talk about him picking up skills with ease. I listened to people that had been in orchestra with him talk about how he befriended even the unpopular kids. I listened to his uncle talk about how he tackled physical challenges with ease. I listened to his sister talk about how close and supportive they were his entire life. And so many more than I could possibly fit in a paragraph.
From Elizabeth Tigner
Lucas was one of the nicest, most genuine and kind-hearted souls I have ever met. I met him in the Purdue Outing Club his freshman year on a fall break camping trip in West Virginia. It was rainy and cold but I only saw a smile on his face the whole time.
Throughout our friendship, we have gone hiking through the smoky mountains, bushwhacking through the woods of southern Indiana, and mountain biking down the hills of West Virginia. Lucas had an adventurous heart.
I loved walking through Lawson because I knew it was likely I would see Lucas. We would talk about trips we have been on and also about school. He was a brilliant man and I knew he would do amazing things in his future.
My friend Maddie and I would always say “Lucas is too good for this earth.” He was always ready to help and boost morale. It is hard to say goodbye to Lucas but I know his soul will live on through the hearts influenced with his genuine kindness and curiosity.
From Naomi Urnes
Lucas and I met in eighth grade. We both played cello in our middle school orchestra, and we rode the same school bus home. We quickly became best friends. Throughout high school, I had so much fun doing many activities together with Lucas: going to his house to practice cello duets, going on a school trip to Costa Rica, building a garden together in our school's environmental club (of which he was the president), and competing together on our school's programming team (of which he was also the president). Lucas was the one who got me into CS. I wanted to take another Advanced Placement class for my senior year of high school, but I had no prior experience with programming. That summer, Lucas taught me everything I needed to know to test into the AP Computer Science class, and I actually ended up majoring in it. When we graduated, I was thrilled that we were going to the same college in the same major.
At Purdue, we became even closer. We would go to the dining court together every night after Philharmonic orchestra rehearsal. I would often go over to his dorm room to play video games or watch movies. He told me all about the things he was learning in his classes and his clubs. We went to hackathons together, where we created an app that Lucas would go on to release with Purdue ACM SIGApp as BoilerFaves. Some of my favorite memories are when we ate apples with honey in his room on Rosh Hashanah and when we tried (and failed) to make cupcakes for my birthday in the Earhart kitchenette. A trait that I really admired about Lucas was his drive to improve himself. He was always practicing, exercising, studying, or playing his favorite games-- I never knew him to procrastinate.
Every day of my first two years of college was fun thanks to Lucas. Every moment I spent with him was an adventure, even just going to the store to get more of his favorite trail mix. We made each other laugh constantly. During lecture, I loved to lean over to him and whisper a joke to make him smile. We supported each other in times of stress, like when he was so worried after a Calculus III midterm that we had to go straight to the dining court for ice cream. When I had a stomach virus that lasted weeks, he brought medicine to my dorm room, and when I finally got better, we met for dinner and ended up talking for two hours. I have tried to share some of my experiences to show how much Lucas meant to me, but I have so many precious memories with him from the past seven years that I can barely begin to describe them all. He was my comfort in life, and I was truly grateful to be his best friend. I know that he had an amazing influence on everyone he met. Lucas was passionate, kind, and a great leader. I will miss his companionship and inspiration forever.
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