Palmetto - Lewis Workman, 90, went to his eternal reward in Heaven on March 22, 2020. Lewis moved from Des Moines, Iowa, to Palmetto, Florida, in 2016. Services and visitation will be announced at a later date.
Lewis was born April 12, 1929, in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. His family moved to Des Moines in the early 1930's. While in Bryon Rice Elementary School, he was very interested in acting and "show business." He enrolled in drama classes taught by the late Kate Goldman. In the same class was Cloris Leachman. Later, he and Cloris co-starred on a local Saturday-morning radio show.
After beginning high school at Roosevelt High, Lewis's interests turned to journalism. He was co-editor of the weekly Roosevelt Roundup. While in high school, he got a job as "copy-boy" in the newsroom of the Des Moines Register and Tribune. This started his fascination with newspapers as he started collecting newspaper front pages of big historic events, eventually collecting a phenomenal collection of several hundred dating from 1914 to the present.
Lewis graduated at the top of his class from Roosevelt High in January 1947 and enrolled in Drake University. He paid his entire way through college by working part-time at the newspaper office. But at Drake, his interest turned from journalism to actuarial science (life insurance mathematics). He graduated with both general honors and departmental honors (in actuarial science) in 1951. At Drake, Lewis was a member of Delta Sigma Pi and Kappa Mu Epsilon. In his senior year, he was awarded the Wall Street Journal Student Achievement Award.
Lewis then worked as an actuary at Central Life Assurance Company in Des Moines from 1951 to 1989. He served as actuarial vice president of the company in the later years. While there, he was asked by the Life Office Management Association to write a mathematics textbook for the Association to use in its world-wide educational program. The textbook was a great success, and he wrote a second version for them a number of years later. Lewis taught several classes in Des Moines on life insurance mathematics for those who were preparing for the Association's examinations. He also served on the Association's committee preparing those examinations after he retired from Central Life. In 1997, the Association honored him with the Insurance Education Award, given annually to the one person who contributed the most toward life insurance education.
Mostly as a result of his successful books, Lewis was included in Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in the Midwest, Who's Who in Finance and Industry, Who's Who in Insurance, Men and Women of Distinction, Community Leaders and Noteworthy Americans, Men of Achievement, Personalities of the West and Midwest, and Dictionary of International Biography.
Lewis married Sally Spence on February 7, 1960, and they had three children. Lewis was active along with his son Douglas in the Indian Guides organization, and also in Boy Scouts (Webelos), where Lewis was the troop leader.
In retirement, Lewis and Sally became "snowbirds," spending the winter months at their "second home" in Florida. They have been very active there in their community, serving as chairpersons of many community activities. In retirement, they also enjoyed extensive world travel, and especially by going on many cruises. They enjoyed taking their children and grandchildren with them on a number of the cruises.
As a retirement "hobby," Lewis and Sally took up "clowning." They studied the art of clowning at the world-famous "Clown Camp" in Wisconsin for ten different years. Combining magic tricks, clown skits, and balloon twisting, they put on numerous shows at local nursing homes, schools, churches, and senior centers (always on a "volunteer" basis). They also taught "The Art of Clowning" a number of times for the national Road Scholar program.
Other interests and activities included square dancing and attending many Broadway musical shows. They were regular attenders at First Federated Church in Des Moines, where they enjoyed being part of a very active Sunday School class. After moving to Florida, they enjoyed attending the First Baptist Church of Palmetto.
Lewis was a member of the Society of Actuaries, the American Academy of Actuaries, the Iowa Actuaries' Club, the World Clown Association, Clowns of America International, Korn Patch Klowns, the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Justo Hijo Magic Club, Fellowship of Christian Magicians, and the Des Moines Color Film Club.
Lewis is survived by his wife Sally; his two children: Diane Holt (Fred) of Cary, North Carolina, and Deborah Newby (Todd) of Palmetto, Florida; his daughter-in-law Joann Workman of Altoona, Iowa; his brother Bruce of Omaha, Nebraska; his cousin Phil Weber of Anacortes, Washington; two nieces; five grandchildren: Andrew Workman, Amy Holt, Heidi Miller (Nathaniel), Jill Pike (Adam), and Abigail Workman; and his ninth direct descendant, great-grandson Jedidiah Miller. He was preceded in death by his parents Harry and Ilah Workman and his son, Dr. Douglas Workman of Des Moines.
In typical Lewis fashion, he wrote this obituary himself many years ago. He left no ends untied. He was as organized and detail-oriented as you can get. The length of this obituary represents his passion for newspapers and how special it is for him to be remembered in this form. He was as sharp as a tack, right to the very end. He was rattling off answers to trivia questions the day before he passed! His family will remember his kindness, positive attitude, constant smile, optimism, sense of humor, devotion to his wife, love of history, love of travel, and love of the Iowa State Fair. He loved meeting famous historical figures and had seen eleven presidents and shaken hands with four of them. His typical day was spent with his wife getting exercise by walking at the mall, having coffee at Chick-Fil-A and eating sugar-free desserts. He loved Sundays because that meant church and lunch with many family members and friends at Subway. We think his life can be summarized in the quote that inspired his clown name "Sparkle," which was the final line of the Broadway play Camelot: "There are millions of drops of water in the ocean, but some of them sparkle."
Published in the Des Moines Register from Mar. 25 to Mar. 29, 2020.