County Faces: Jan Lucas of Crouseville
The greatest advice that Jan Lucas of Crouseville remembers receiving is from her father, who was a World War II veteran and often told his children to live a full life and “get out there and explore” the world. Lucas, who grew up in London, England, took his advice to heart and became both an avid traveller and resident of many countries before settling in Aroostook County with her husband Roger Lucas.
“I think because he had gone to places like India and Egypt during the the war and learned about other cultures, he wanted my siblings and I to know that there is more to the world than England,” Lucas said, about her father.
Lucas and her husband have lived in Aroostook County for 13 years and she currently is the director of sales at the Hampton Inn’s Presque Isle location. She noted that aside from many of the geographical and cultural differences between northern Maine and England, her experiences with school were even more different than those of children in the U.S.
In England, Lucas explained, children begin their education with ‘infant school’ from ages 4 to 7 and then move onto ‘junior school,’ from ages 8 to 11, as opposed to elementary and middle school. Like all students in the country, she finished high school at age 15.
“They didn’t call it ‘graduation’ because there were no cap and gown ceremonies. One day you were in high school and the next day you weren’t anymore,” Lucas said. “A lot of students would go onto a ‘sixth form college,’ which is where they take general classes in between high school and college. Then they’d go to university.”
Instead, since Lucas’s parents could not afford to send her to college right away, she took night classes as part of a program that allowed students to work while earning college credit. She worked as the area office manager for a company that produced milk and food products for home delivery, and later earned her master’s in business administration from the University of London.
Lucas met her husband Roger in 1978. He was living in Australia at the time but had been visiting England with his stepbrother. It was Roger’s search for his biological father, an American World War II veteran, that would bring the couple to Aroostook County decades later.
According to a 2008 article published in the Bangor Daily News, Roger Lucas had been searching for clues about his father’s identity and whereabouts actively for numerous years before finding out the truth. His father was Halton “Hank” Greenleaf, who resided in and ran a successful hardware store in Washburn until his death at age 70. He had passed away believing that Roger, his only biological child, had died of tuberculosis at age 4 because that was what Roger’s mother had told him.
After visiting Roger’s second cousins in Washburn several times, he and Lucas decided to emigrate to the U.S. from England in 2005. Although they left behind cultural and travel opportunities, Lucas said they have long since adopted Aroostook County as their permanent home.
“We love the quiet and the peacefulness and the people are much more friendly here,” Lucas said. “This is the longest period of time we’ve lived anywhere during 40 years of marriage.”
Still, Lucas has many fond memories from her years in England. After selling a restaurant that she and Roger had owned and operated for several years, they spent time travelling before serving as the home manager and estate manager, respectively, for different upper-class households in England. As part of her job she met everyone from company CEOs to the Royal Family.
In Aroostook County, Lucas and her husband were two of the original owners of Cafe Sorpreso in Presque Isle before selling their share in 2009. Lucas credits her past event and restaurant management experiences with her successes at the former Crow’s Nest and Hampton Inn. She is a member of both the Presque Isle Historical Society and the Presque Isle Rotary Club and has embraced the comradery that exists among her friends and colleagues.
“I volunteered in England, but over there you’re just one out of hundreds of people. Here people learn from each other in order to help others,” Lucas said.