John "Jack" Levisky loved to discover.

Put him in a laboratory, give him some bones and ask him to determine how that person died. He'd dive in, said David Polk, a friend of Levisky's and fellow professor of behavioral sciences at York College.

"That's just what Jack loved doing," Polk said. "He'd jump into it."

A favorite of students and a nationally recognized forensic anthropologist, the longtime York College professor died Saturday at his home after an illness. He was 74.

Levisky came to York College 33 years ago as a professor of forensic anthropology, statistics and research. Using his skills, he served on many scientific teams to exhume, examine and report on skeletal remains.

Levisky worked on high-profile cases, including the exhumation of the body of alleged Boston Strangler Albert DeSalvo in 2001. He testified as an expert witness in many court cases.

But, Polk said, Levisky was also a talented teacher.

"Jack was just this warm, easygoing guy who was really concerned about students learning," Polk said. "He was just committed to the whole process of teaching students."

Polk said he remembers when Levisky arrived at the college three decades ago, soon after he retired from the Air Force with the rank of major after a 20-year career.

Levisky spoke of Nevada deserts, where he'd spent years defusing bombs dropped by practicing pilots.

"I can still remember him telling the stories," Polk said. "I thought, wow."

A funeral for Levisky is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Friday at the Collegiate Performing Arts Center at York College, 441 Country Club Road. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial gifts be made to the John S. Levisky Fund at York College or to Lutheran Home Care and Hospice in York.

"I think Jack would have been teaching here at the age of 150 if he could have," Polk said. "He just loved the academic setting that much."

- Erin James may also be reached at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.