lockardJon Onye Lockard died in March at age 83, but he left his beloved Washtenaw Community College and his former students a remarkable visual legacy and a vast wealth of knowledge.

Lockard, an instructor in the Humanities, Social and Behavioral Studies department for 40 years, contributed life drawings and portraitures that are seen and admired by hundreds of students, faculty, staff and visitors every day. He taught Life Drawing and African American Art and Culture.
All you have to do is take a stroll around campus to see that his legacy continues through his beautiful, one-of-a-kind portraits. The Detroit native’s signature black and white charcoal paintings grace the walls of several buildings across campus. His talent is also on display in the Business Education building – a colorful mural that honors and celebrates the life of another legendary faculty member, Dr. Morris Lawrence Jr.
As the former president and lifelong member of the National Conference of Artists, Lockard’s work was exhibited nationally and internationally. Adding to his already-impressive career, he served on the committee that designed the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C.

His influence touched hundreds of students and faculty as well. “He was one of the best artists in the world, but he was much, much more,” said John E. Lawrence, the recently retired chair of the WCC Performing Arts department. “He was a scholar, a humanitarian, and my friend. Jon taught me many life lessons that made me the man I am today.”

Lockard started his teaching career at WCC in 1970 before retiring five years ago. During those 40 years, he illustrated a number of books and cofounded the Society for the Study of African Culture and Aesthetics, where he served as the associate director. He also lectured at the University of Michigan Department of African American and African Studies. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Wayne State University and a master’s degree at the University of Toronto.

Over the course of Lockard’s career, he drew and painted numerous portraits of celebrities and well-renowned political figures, including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Rosa Parks and he also painted murals which are displayed at several universities. He was in the midst of completing a series of books for students, up-and-coming artists, and art lovers at the time of his death.

Although Lockard is no longer here physically, his countless portraits at WCC add a personality and richness to the campus and serve as a constant reminder that his spirit will be seen, felt and enjoyed for many generations to come. Lockard’s devotion to education and teaching is exemplified by the creation of a WCC student scholarship fund in his name. Monies are given to a qualified art student annually.

Lockard is survived by his wife, Leslie, three sons, three grandchildren, a brother, a multitude of devoted friends and thousands of students.