February 29, 2020 Happy Birthday Michigan Man Jack Lousma

Posted on February 28, 2020 by Barry Gallagher

Today is a great day to remember the happy birthday anniversary of a famous Wolverine named Jack Lousma. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Jack Robert Lousma was born on this day in 1936 at Grand Rapids, Michigan. His family moved to Ann Arbor when Jack was in elementary school. He graduated from Ann Arbor Pioneer High School in 1954.

(Note: Jack Lousma (23) is shown above with the 1956 Michigan Football tam. He is in the back row - second man from the left. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)

Part I. Wolverine of the Day: Jack Lousma

Jack Lousma began his college education at Michigan in the fall of 1954. He was listed on the roster as a quarterback. Freshman could not play on the varsity in those days. So, Lousma played on the freshman team and focused on getting ready for the future.

Lousma was back on the Michigan Football Roster in 1955, but he didn’t make much of an impact in his sophomore year. He was still listed as a reserve and did not earn a letter on Bennie Oosterbaan’s eighth Michigan team that finished the season with a final record of 7 wins and 2 losses. The Wolverines finished third in the Big Ten Conference with a record of 5-2-0.

Jack Lousma was looking to help Michigan improve on their record in 1956 and possibly win a conference championship. Of course, he was hoping to get on the field and earn a letter too.

The 1956 edition of the Michigan Football team posted another record of 7 wins and 2 losses – and finished second in the Big Ten at 5-2-0. Jack Lousma did not start any games in 1956, but he did play in big wins over UCLA and Army. All his hard work did finally pay off since he lettered on the 1956 Michigan Football team.

Jack Lousma returned to the field for his senior season in 1957. Unfortunately, he suffered an elbow injury and did not see the field in his last year at Michigan.

Lousma graduated with an engineering degree and an officer’s commission in the United States Marine Corps in 1959. He completed flight school. After six years in the air, he wanted to do more. So, he was selected to be an astronaut by NASA in 1966. Jack Lousma left the NASA program in October 1983 and retired from the Marine Corps in 1983.

Jack Lousma was interviewed outside the Inglis House in 1982. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Colonel Jack Lousma probably didn’t do as much for the Michigan Football program as he wanted to do. However, he saved his best for his career pursuits. Here are some “firsts” that Jack Lousma achieved: 

  • Lousma was the first, and only, Michigan Wolverine to become an astronaut.
  • Jack was the first Michigan Man to fly two  space missions.
  • He is the only Wolverine to log over 1,600 hours in space and accomplish two spacewalks.
  • Lousma is the only former Michigan football player to be awarded four honorary doctorates.

Yes today is a great day to celebrate the life of another amazing Michigan Man. I hope that Jack Lousma has a special day on the 84th anniversary of his birth. Go Blue!

Check out the Wikipedia article about this Hall of Fame space pioneer.



Part II. February 20, 2020 National Day Calendar Update:

  • National Surf and Turf Day
  • Leap Day



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