Remembering the life of Donald Lackey

Former Geneseo Assistant Vice President for Human Resources Donald Lackey died in a car accident on Sunday Sept. 11 at the age of 74. Lackey worked in the college’s human resources department from 1973 until his retirement in 2002. He not only held positions as HR director and assistant vice president, but also served as both member and advisor for the Roundtable Athletic Association and—following his retirement—a member and chairman for the Interfaith Board of Directors and an active and organizing participant of Geneseo’s Emeriti Group and the SUNY-wide Retirees Service Corps.

As an HR professional, Lackey was described as not only good at his job, but as a worker who genuinely enjoyed it. “He was really very concerned with the well-being of people,” distinguished teaching professor of English Ron Herzman said. “He was the ‘HR guy,’ and that’s a position where it’s really easy to get caught up in the rules and bureaucratic demands. It’s very easy to lose that human dimension … to remind yourself that the point of it is to do [the] job so our lives can be better. I think he never forgot that. He was just a very good person to have for all those years in the position.”

Assistant Vice President for Human Resources Julie Briggs and Secretary in Human Resources Elaine Anderson described him as a tenacious and inclusive individual.

“I really looked up to Don; he was one of my mentors. He helped me learn the ropes on how HR works on a SUNY campus, and I would call him constantly with questions,” Briggs said. “He cared tremendously about employees, making sure that they felt valued, that they had what they needed to be successful, that they were cared about.”

Lackey was a member of the SUNY Human Resources Association during his career and served as president of the organization between 1985 and 1987. He was later the recipient of the SUNY Human Resources Association Ted Barber Distinguished Human Resources Award in 1992 for his work as an HR professional at Geneseo. He also received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service, the highest award a professional employee can earn in the SUNY system.

“He was highly valued all the way at the top of SUNY through the [Geneseo] campus,” Briggs said.

After his retirement, Lackey stayed actively involved in organizations and events across campus. According to Anderson, he reinvigorated the college’s Emeriti Group, helping to coordinate not only their annual lunches, but tours of the college and additional gatherings.

“He set up trips,” Anderson said. “They went on a boat trip in Rochester, and he set the whole thing up. He was constantly coordinating things, not just coming to campus for the luncheons, but also doing other things as a group.”

Briggs speculates that Geneseo has one of the more successful Emeriti Groups in SUNY “because of Don.”

In addition to Lackey’s passion for the college community, he was described to have deep family values. “He and his wife were largely inseparable. If you saw one, you were bound to see the other,” Herzman said. “That, I think, was the most important thing in his life: his family and his kids.”

Lackey is survived by his wife Nancy O’Laughlin Lackey, his sons Kevin Patrick Lackey and Michael Lackey, grandchildren Riley Elizabeth Lackey, Ryan Patrick Lackey, Trevor James Lackey, Megan Katherine Lackey and sisters Patricia Corcoran and Mavorneen Smith.