Harry Nelson Lewis of Charlottesville died on March 16, 2021 after a long illness at home with his family by his side.
Harry was born on July 6, 1927 in Charlottesville, the second of three sons to Chauncey Depew and Clarice Undine Laughn Lewis of Proffit, Virginia. He attended public schools in Charlottesville and graduated from Lane High School.
He entered the University of Virginia and played quarterback for the Cavaliers in his freshman year. His university studies were postponed when he enrolled in the Navy. Harry participated in the V-5 Naval Aviation Cadet training program and was sent to Marquette University near Lake Bluff, Illinois. During training, he was discovered by his former UVA trainer Frank Murray, then the Marquette team’s trainer, who immediately recruited him to play the same position for Marquette. Family and friends later considered that Harry was the only college football player to quarterback two college teams in a year.
After World War II, Harry re-entered the University of Virginia, graduating in 1949 (BA, Commerce). He was a member of the Glee Club, the soccer team, the Virginia Spectator Magazine staff, and the Sigma Phi Epsilon Brotherhood.
After graduating, Harry first worked for Baker Watts, an investment firm in Baltimore. He soon returned to his hometown to work with his father in the Lewis Insurance Agency family business. Harry took over the business when his father retired and stayed until his son Nelson took over from him.
Harry was a member of the first grade attending the University of Virginia Graduate Business School and earned his MBA in 1957. He was a dedicated graduate of the UVA Darden School of Business. Harry was a class agent for over 60 years and was named first chairman of the Darden Alumni Board in 1964. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Darden Foundation and received the Harry N. Lewis Distinguished Service Award for the first time in 2016. In Darden, he developed lifelong friendships that resulted in several happy and memorable road trips with spouses. For the past few years he has looked forward to monthly lunches with Darden alumni called the Fearsome Four.
Harry was a dedicated community and business leader. He was a member of the sacristy of St. Paul’s Memorial Church at the University of Virginia. He was founding director and interim president of the Guarantee Savings and Loan Association and chief executive officer of O’Neil Mortgage Corporation. He was appointed to the Virginia Milk Commission and founded Charlottesville’s “This Week” magazine, which was distributed free of charge to the community for many years.
Harry’s kindness and gentle, ironic sense of humor brought smiles to many, especially his family, to whom he was fully dedicated. He was a lifelong athlete. In addition to soccer, Harry boxed, sailed, fished and was an avid tennis, squash and golf player. He started skiing in his forties and enjoyed annual ski touring with friends, skiing black diamond slopes until the seventies. He took fitness seriously and jogged several miles three times a week until the 1980s.
Harry was an avid naturalist, hiker, and bird watcher who loved the outdoors and was happy to share these interests with family and friends. He inspired all of his children to love nature.
Harry is survived by his wife Mary Dearing Ward Johns Lewis, children Nelson Prescott Lewis (Jennifer Yourkavitch), Christian Lewis Wheeler (Scott Wheeler and grandson Hunter Lewis Wheeler), and Sarah Dearing Johns (Jared Miller). Survivors also include his nieces Karen Lewis Wilbur (Phil Wilbur, Alice and Amelia) and Robin Lewis Allen (Mark Allen, Alansa and Lucius). In addition to his parents, he was passed away by his first wife, Eleanor Ivey Lewis, of Lynchburg, Virginia, who died in 1986.
When his older brother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Harry took part in an NIH longitudinal study that has now become the BIOCARD study at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The family is grateful for the excellent medical advice from his physician Evan Heald, MD, and for the excellent care from his family of seasoned caregivers, particularly Louella (Tina) Howard, Taqueshia and Donna Churchman, Lesley Rogers, Macy Drey, Chevone Blair, Susan Mefford, Briauna Jones, Lindsay Talbott, Kenya Gaines, Betty Bailey, Shane Sheffield, and the steadfast Jerome Harris. A family service was held in the University of Virginia cemetery.
Notes can be sent to the family at www.hillandwood.com. Those who wish to make a donation in Harry’s memory can consider a gift to the Harry N. Lewis Distinguished Service Award Fund of the UVA Darden School of Business, St. Paul’s Memorial Church, or any organization that enjoys nature, wildlife, or people supported with dementia.
Published by Daily Progress on March 28, 2021.