Lewis, Richard R.
Richard R. Lewis, 78, passed away early Thursday evening, May 29, 2014 of complications from treatments for myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare blood disorder. He was born at Mercy Hospital in Oshkosh to Robert and Norma (Leaman) Lewis on November 21, 1935.
Richard graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh with a degree in secondary education and was drafted into the United States Army. He married Mary Louise Blanchette on January 14, 1959 at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey before being sent to Germany where he worked with Corporal missiles in an ordnance battalion.
After the Army, Richard began his teaching career at Wilson Junior High School in Appleton. He continued as a math teacher at Webster Stanley Junior High in Oshkosh before transferring to Oshkosh North the year it opened.
In 1963 he started volunteering with the Miss Wisconsin Pageant where he served as a State Field Director, a member of the board of directors and a year as Executive Director. At the national pageant in Las Vegas in January 2013, he received an award from the Miss America Organization for his fifty years of dedication to the program.
When the restored Grand Opera House opened in 1986 the Opera House Guild managed the concessions and Richard worked at nearly every performance until the guild disbanded. He continued supporting the Grand as a season ticket holding and contributed to the recent second restoration and lounge project.
EAA AirVenture was a favorite "summer job" and he volunteered with the B-17 for over 30 years. He retired from teaching in 1994, the same year the national tours started and he became a tour coordinator, travelling around the country with the Aluminum Overcast and checking in the people who take flights during AirVenture. He also worked as a docent at the EAA Museum.
Richard enjoyed outdoor activities like fishing, bicycling, cross-country skiing and walking down to Lake Winnebago often. Watching the Packer games on TV was always a priority.
His is survived by his loving wife of 55 years, Mary Louise; sister, Jackie Gutsmiedl of Oshkosh; brother-in-law, Ralph (Elaine) Blanchette of Madison; sister-in-law, Annette Blanchette of River Falls; special nephew, Thaddeus (Ana) Blanchette in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; additional cousins, nieces, nephews, friends and numerous "pageant daughters." He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Sally Frank.
Visitation will be held at Algoma Blvd. Methodist Church, 1174 Algoma Blvd. on Saturday, June 7, 2014 from 10:30 A.M. to 12:30 P.M. with a service of remembrance beginning at 12:30 P.M.
Any memorials will go to the Grand Opera House or EAA's Young Eagles Program.