By the mid-'80s, after both Mark and Jean were widowed, Jerry had all but given up on reaching his father. Then, in 1988, Jerry showed up to speak at an Assembly of God church on the outskirts of Cincinnati only to find Mark in the audience. When Jerry urged people to signal their desire to make a change in their lives by looking up at him, he met the eyes of his dad. "It overwhelmed me," Jerry says. "He hasn't touched a drop since."
A year and a half after that day, Mark and Jean Lucas were married again. They remain so, happily, 30 years after their first untidy go of it. Jerry, who had divorced a second time and married Cheri Wulff, moved back to Middletown in 1989 and stayed for three years to rebuild his relationship with his father. Mark and Jean now live in Erlanger, Ky, two doors down from Roy Lucas, who's an assistant football coach at Thomas More College.
Today, between church events and eight or 10 tournaments a year on the Celebrity Players Tour, Lucas alights at his 20-acre spread in Templeton, Calif., where he and Cheri have lived for the past decade and together run a shelter for neglected and abused dogs. His bank account ebbs and flows depending on how much product he can sell at appearances and through his website, doctormemory.com. Bill Murray, who has been Lucas's booker and Guy Friday since 1979, humps Doctor Memory books, tapes and videos from city to city in a GMC truck, setting up a table at each venue, most often a church. A year ago, in Amarillo, Texas, a bent tailpipe caused half the payload of that truck to catch fire and become memorization memories, as it were.
From time to time the television networks make a pass at Lucas, knowing what a natural he would be as an analyst. He's well-spoken, hoops-savvy and, of course, unlikely to mess up a name or a stat. But he shuns their money. "If I did TV, I'd be passing up what God has called me to do," he says. Instead he develops pictograms, hoping to land a grant from an educational foundation so he can publish more materials and set up a pilot program to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Lucas Learning System. "The biggest hurdle continues to be financial," says Lucas, who's in discussions with the Columbus Education Association, which he hopes will introduce his methods to the grade schools of that city. "Every sound a human being can make I have pictured in my clip-art file. What I need are grant writers, animators, support people. I live on a month-to-month basis. A few years ago I was picking up cushions on couches and looking in drawers for money for a meal."
After each evening presentation at First Redeemer Church, Lucas holes up in his room at a Marriott in nearby Alpharetta, Ga., to work on one of his latest projects: 500 words of ancient Greek to help theology students study the Bible in the original. A professor is feeding him definitions and pronunciations; Lucas uses Adobe Illustrator software to create a pictogram for each word. (He has already published Picture Perfect Spanish.) It's easy to, yes, picture him, framed by a lone illuminated hotel-room window at 2 a.m., squinting at a laptop as he puts overalls on elephants and legs on igloos and facial expressions on cars, all to make something difficult less so—all to turn some confounding smidgen of human knowledge into, more or less, a Lucas Layup.
"I don't know when, but I believe the Lord is going to open doors," he says. "Even if it happens after I'm gone, I know this will change education and millions of lives.
"People ask, 'What's the greatest thing ever to happen to you?' " The answer, coming from an All-America, a Hall of Famer, a Sportsman of the Year, tends to surprise people. "I tell them it hasn't happened yet."