Remember
2013
2013 Memorial Sites | Image: Flickr Creative Commons / Nanagyei

Peter Lewis Obituary

11/11/1933 - 11/23/2013| Visit Guest Book
Peter Lewis (WireImage/Larry Busacca)
Peter Lewis (WireImage/Larry Busacca)
MAYFIELD VILLAGE, Ohio (AP) - Peter Lewis, who shepherded Progressive Corp. from a small-time operation to one of the largest auto insurers in the country and later became the billionaire backer of marijuana legalization, died Saturday. He was 80.

Philanthropic adviser Jennifer Frutchy said Lewis died at his home in Coconut Grove, Fla.

Progressive President and CEO Glenn Renwick said the company owes its growth and its culture of openness to Lewis. He said Lewis' caring and honesty are "bedrock" values of the company.

"The history of Progressive is very much the history that Peter Lewis laid down," Renwick said. A willingness to take risks and constantly learn and grow are principles that can be traced to Lewis, he added.

"He really was a special person, there's no doubt about that," Renwick said.

Lewis became chief executive officer of Progressive in 1965, built from the company his father co-founded in 1937. Lewis held the leadership post for 35 years, during which Progressive - and Lewis' fortune - steadily grew. In 2006, Forbes calculated his net worth at $1.4 billion.

Lewis turned his wealth into support for a number of progressive causes, including strong support for marijuana law reform that began after he used it following a leg amputation. Lewis helped bankroll marijuana-related causes in Ohio, Washington and Massachusetts.

In a 2011 interview with Forbes Magazine, Lewis said he first tried marijuana at age 39. He said he found it to be "better than scotch" and later relied on it for pain management.

"I don't believe that laws against things that people do regularly, like safe and responsible use of marijuana, make any sense," he told Forbes. "Everything that has been done to enforce these laws has had a negative effect, with no results."

Lewis also spent time as a trustee of the Guggenheim Museum and stepped down in 2005, saying he saying disagreed with the institution's focus on international expansion. He had been a leading benefactor of the museum, donating tens of millions of dollars.

For a time Lewis largely stopped giving to local Cleveland-area concerns, saying there was little cooperation among civic leaders or public development. Last year, however, he donated $5 million to the Cleveland Institute of Art, the Plain Dealer reported. At the time, he said he made the donation because a development plan that impressed him in 2004 had met his expectations.

Lewis also gave generously to his alma mater, Princeton University. He donated more than $220 million to the school, where he also served as a trustee.


Copyright © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Read Full Obituary for Peter Lewis

Guest Book Highlights

If you need help finding the right words, view our Suggested Entries
 

Other obituaries

Published in The New York Times from November 26 to November 27, 2013
LEWIS--Peter B. The Trustees, National Council, and staff of the Aspen Art Museum mourn the loss of Peter B. Lewis, an inspiring philanthropist, friend, donor to and supporter of the arts. His... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on November 26, 2013
LEWIS--Peter, Deepest condolences to the Lewis family. He was a brilliant businessman, a generous spirit, and visionary. Igor Galynker M.D. Family Center Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on November 26, 2013
LEWIS--Peter B. The staff and Board of Directors of Human Rights Watch mourn the passing of Peter B. Lewis, steadfast supporter for more than a decade. We are grateful for his passion, principles... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on November 26, 2013
LEWIS--Peter B. The Trustees and staff of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation mourn the passing of Peter B. Lewis, a longtime member of its Board and former Chairman. Peter's devotion and... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on November 26, 2013
LEWIS--Peter B. The Staff and Trustees of the New Museum mourn the sudden passing of Peter B. Lewis, a maverick corporate leader, visionary thinker, and extraordinary philanthropist. As a supporter... Read Obituary
Published in The New York Times on November 26, 2013
LEWIS--Peter B., The Board of Directors and staff of the American Civil Liberties Union are deeply saddened by the passing of Peter B. Lewis, one of the leading lights of the philanthropic world,... Read Obituary

Search Memorials

- ADVERTISEMENT -

About This Site: 2013 Memorials

The 2013 Memorial Site includes obituaries and Guest Books from the Legacy.com network of newspaper and funeral home affiliates.

- ADVERTISEMENT -
- ADVERTISEMENT -