Longtime educator Lewis dies after illness

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 31, 2001

Natchez lost a dedicated educator and community servant on Monday, when Robert Lewis died after a long illness. Lewis, 86, was described by friends as a man of few words but important deeds.

&uot;He was a quiet man; he let his actions speak for him,&uot; said Freddie Johnson, a friend for many years and a colleague in public education in Natchez.

Daughter RaFaye Lewis described her father as a kind and loving man. &uot;He made me know that he loved me unconditionally and that he was always proud that I was his daughter,&uot; she said.

&uot;But what I will remember the most is the relationship he had with my mother. They had a very productive and fulfilling life before I came along,&uot; she said.

Robert Lewis and his wife, Theresa Lewis, began their education careers together in Winston County in 1938, also the year they married.

He graduated first from Campbell College in Jackson. &uot;He was very proud of that,&uot; his daughter said. &uot;It was a church school, run by the African Methodist Episcopal Church.&uot;

From there, he went to Alcorn State University to receive a second bachelor’s degree and then to Ohio State University for his master’s degree.

Lewis learned the radio technician trade in the 1940s, spending two years in the military in that field. He pursued the field as a weekend hobby most of his life.

&uot;He’d fix old radios and TVs and just give them to people,&uot; his daughter said.

Lewis began his career in Natchez as a mathematics teacher in the mid-1950s. &uot;Math was his love,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;He really enjoyed it and always wanted to have a strong math program when he became a principal.&uot;

Friend Ora Frazier, also now retired from education, recalled Lewis during her first year as a teacher in Natchez.

&uot;He was my first principal when I came to teach at Brumfield School in 1959,&uot; said Frazier. &uot;He is one of the very strong links in the chain of educational leaders in Natchez.&uot;

He moved from Brumfield School to become principal at Anchorage Junior High, then to Sadie V. Thompson High School, to South Natchez High School and to North Natchez High School, where he remained principal until his retirement.

The funeral will be held Saturday. Complete arrangements will be released later.