W. J. (Jack) LEWIS Jr., M.D.

News Death Notice

LEWIS, Jr., W.J. "Jack" MD 89, of Kettering, passed away on Saturday, April 5, 2014. A thirst for knowledge, a passion for people, a soul full of song. In his 89 years, Dr. W.J. "Jack" Lewis personified and defined each of those phrases. As a lifelong learner, his bookshelves burst with novels, classics, and non-fiction tomes that covered a library full of topics and filled his mind with more information than infinite Google searches. A Family Practitioner by trade, Jack was a healer, a sympathetic ear, and a confidant to thousands of patients during his 37-year practice. He had a self-described "perfect partnership" with Dr. Lou Haley during most of his career. To his family, extended family, and countless friends, he was still the doctor-on-call long past retirement, and was always available for counsel and advice. His family always came first. But it was truly the gift of music that gladdened his heart more than anything. There was a song in his heart (and often on his lips) virtually every waking moment of the day. Blessed with a soaring tenor voice but with a range of notes even a bass could envy, Jack sang and enjoyed everything from opera to Gilbert and Sullivan, and the great hymns of the church to Barbershop ditties. He anchored the Christ United Methodist Church choir tenor section for 62 years, and sang with the Dayton Philharmonic Chorus. He founded and directed the Montgomery County Medical Society Glee Club, the unique chorus composed entirely of practicing physicians. Perhaps his greatest musical happiness was the pure joy of four-part harmony he shared, most especially with friends of seven decades he met at DePauw University and continued to vacation with yearly in a special slice of God's backyard near Traverse City, Michigan. Jack came by his love of music through his parents and his Welsh heritage, of which he was extremely proud. He was born in Indiana on June 8, 1924. One of his favorite quotes was: "To be born Welsh is to be born privileged. Not with a silver spoon in your mouth, but music in your blood and poetry in your soul." He served on national Welsh organization boards, participated in many national Welsh songfests (Gymanfa Ganus), and directed several local versions. And in his 70s, he signed up for courses so he could learn the Welsh language. Extremely active in his church and community, Jack was Chairman of the Pastor/Parish relations committee at Christ UMC. He served on countless boards, including the Miami Valley Health Improvement Council, the Physicians Charitable Foundation, the Wright State University Friends of the Library and the Community Blood Bank. One of his greatest local passions was The Wright State University Medical School that he helped establish, and at which he became a clinical Professor Emeritus. Jack served as President of the Montgomery County Medical Society, subsequently held statewide office, and was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Medical Association. He also was Chief of Staff at Kettering Hospital. Through all his activities, he rubbed shoulders with laborers and Presidents alike, treating all he encountered with dignity and respect. He went from waiting tables at a sorority house in college to dining at the White House. He didn't know a stranger, and was at ease with all. Jack was privileged to visit most if not all the 50 states, as well as travel abroad several times, including a special family trip to Wales and the opportunity to see his ancestral homeland. Jack also honorably served his country during World War II in the medical corps, beginning in Africa and then mainly in Italy. He had a unique honor three years ago when he returned to Florence to tour the area where he had been stationed. Though nothing more then a coincidence, a new WWII museum was being dedicated in the town of Scarperia, and Jack had the honor of cutting the ribbon to open the facility, addressing the delighted crowd in Italian. He is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Ann. They met while he was in medical school and she in nurse's training at Indiana University. Ann and Jack's four children, Bill (Susan), Kathy Dierkes (Joe), Megan Haddox (Craig) and Jill, all inherited his love of music. He was especially proud of his seven grandchildren, Jackie (Michael), Courtney (Matt), Katie, Evan, Carrie, John (Alex) and Mary. Jack's Michigan family was second only to his own flesh and blood in his level of love. The magic of Lake Michigan permeated a group that now numbers over a hundred, most of whom gather once a year to love, laugh and, of course, sing. The Hayeses, Durhams, Besterfields, Schrolls, Finouts, Adairs, and the Vaughans were treasured beyond measure. One member of that group summed up the feelings of many when he said, "The earth won't be the same without you." Jack joined the Heavenly Chorus on April 5, 2014. With Jack leading from his hospital bed, his family joined in singing together soon before he carried his joyful noise to God.

Published in Dayton Daily News on Apr. 13, 2014