Friday, August 4, 2017

Lycoming athletics mourns loss of Joe Lumbis

Zack Czap and Joe Lumbis (A file photo)
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - A member of the Lycoming College community for more than 30 years, Joe Lumbis, 65, passed away peacefully at the Gatehouse surrounded by family on Wednesday, Aug. 2, after a four-year battle with cancer. Lumbis worked in the athletic department as the Warriors’ equipment manager the past 28 years.

(A file photo)
A viewing will be held between 9-10:30 a.m. at Sanders Mortuary, 821 Diamond St., Williamsport, on Monday, Aug. 7. A graveside service will follow in Green Lawn Memorial Park. The family would like to extend an invitation to friends and family to join them at a luncheon to celebrate Joe’s life immediately following the graveside services. It will be held at the Duboistown United Methodist Church Social Hall, 133 Summer St., Duboistown.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Joe’s name may be made to support Cancer Research at Geisinger Health System by sending checks, made payable to GHF, to: GHF, MC 25-76, 100 N. Academy Ave., Danville, PA 17822, or memorial donations may also be made online at

file photo)
“I was fortunate enough to meet Joe as a player and work with him as a player and head coach,” Director of Athletics Mike Clark said. “Aside from him being an invaluable member of the athletic department, he was a good person and friend. We will miss him.”

Lumbis joined the athletic department in 1990 after working as a security guard on campus for a number of years. Lumbis, with his ever-present mustache and Lycoming College hat, immediately fit in. He was there as the football team made its way to Florida for the 1990 Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, the Division III national championship. In 1997, he sowed Stagg Bowl patches onto the uniforms of the whole team during a short time period when it made a repeat appearance in Virginia.

Early in his career, he picked up another unofficial role when Chris Ditzler became the head softball coach in 1993. For the duration of her 16-year tenure, Lumbis was a reliable presence in the dugout, keeping the official scorebook for the team. He watched as the team won a Middle Atlantic Conference title in 1995 and four years later, when the softball field was built in the Northeast corner of the Shangraw Athletic Complex, it was Lumbis that took the care and time to keep the infield in top shape.

Glenn Smith and Joe Lumbis (A file photo)
His influence was found in all aspects of the athletic department. He was an ever-present face at basketball games, often coming to the games with his mother, Jane, as well as wrestling matches. He worked long and irregular hours, making sure uniforms were ready to go on short turnarounds, and he did it with a steadfast regularity that was admired. Former athletic director Scott Kennell recently said he didn’t miss a day of work in the 11 years (2000-11) that he worked at the school.

For long hours, while the laundry was working its way through the washer and dryer, Lumbis would sit and read books by the handful in his offices in the Shangraw Athletic Complex and Lamade Gym. He became a self-taught expert in the Civil War.

He enjoyed Americana and beyond, creating a collection of antiques and he had an extensive collection of Aladdin oil lamps.

(A file photo)
When he began his fight with cancer, two things became immediately clear. His impact on the athletic department was such that the support he received was at times overwhelming. Many times, Coach Ditzler would sit with him during his treatments. The other thing that was clear was that, just as Lumbis had always performed his duties with readiness, so, too, would he for as long as he could through the illness. He worked the same long hours, working around his treatment for as long as he could.

His connection to the student-athletes was admirable. A link to an earlier era at the college, Lumbis is almost always one of the first people that former athletes asked about when they returned to the school. For his part, Lumbis enjoyed working with the young adults, unless he didn’t. He used to like to comment, “Most of the kids are fine, but if they bug me, that’s when I have to put them in their place.”

(A file photo)
Shortly after saying that, he would inevitably break back into, “They’re good kids.”

The effect of Lumbis’ caring devotion to the athletic department is hard to quantify. However, within two days of his passing, the social media posts with pictures of Lumbis are already the most shared in the history of the lycoathletics Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

A 1970 graduate of South Williamsport Area High School, he also earned a degree from the Pennsylvania College of Technology in 1972.

Surviving are his mother, Jane, of Duboistown; his sister, Dolores (Mark) Conrad, of Cogan House; and his brother, Anthony (Bibianna) Lumbis, of Watertown, N.Y.