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Don Owen Lewis Sr.

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Don Owen Lewis Sr. Obituary
Don Owen Lewis Sr.

Germantown, TN

On Friday evening, June 8, 2018, Don Owen Lewis, Sr., of Germantown, TN, passed away peacefully, at the age of 78, surrounded by his family.

Don was a 1958 graduate of South Side High School, where he was Vice President of the Senior Class and, as a member of the Scrappers' varsity football, baseball, track and wrestling teams, Don Lewis proved himself to be a gifted and accomplished athlete.

After graduation, he headed to Delta State University but soon followed in the footsteps of his father, Inspector O. D. Lewis (deceased) of the Memphis Police Department (MPD.) It was 1961, and he became Patrolman Don O. Lewis.

Lewis began his career as a patrolman but his talent and passion for the job was soon recognized. A "policeman's policeman," Don worked his way through the ranks of the MPD in various departments. After 25 years of service, he was promoted and, at the time, was made the youngest Deputy Director / Chief of Police in the MPD's 158-year history.

Aside from the posts he commanded and the policies and procedures he instituted, Lewis was often recognized nationally and internationally. In 1975, based on his exhaustive investigations and case closures, Master Detective magazine selected Don as the National Police Officer of the Month. He also served in an exchange program with Scotland Yard where he spent three months embedded with UK officers in order to understand their philosophy on policing. In 1980, Don was invited to join elite officers from around the world at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA.

The influence and legacy Lewis left at the Memphis Police Department continues to this day. His methodical and forward-looking approach led him to form the Crisis Intervention Team – established to offer a more intelligent, and safe management of mental crisis events. Other cities still refer to it as the "Memphis Model" when developing a similar unit. Lewis also founded the first Specialized Patrol Unit out of the West Precinct, which became the model for a permanent unit created to target certain criminal activity. In addition, he was one of the original members of the Hostage Negotiation Team.

Over the course of a time-demanding 30-year career, Don was able to be a devoted father and passionate fan of his Ole Miss Rebels. He was heavily involved in baseball – coaching not only his sons, but scores of young men to competitive championships and creating memories that would last a lifetime.

After his departure from the MPD, Lewis deployed his law enforcement experience to found Pro-Tech Security, one of the premiere private security firms in the Mid-South.

From the day he pinned on his first badge to the day he retired his Deputy Director badge, Chief Lewis embodied the motto "to protect and serve."

Don was preceded in death by his mother, Sara Helen Scruggs and father, O.D. Lewis and granddaughter, Elizabeth. His spirit will be proudly carried on by his wife of 56 years, Laura Ann Lewis; his four children, Suzanne Hamm (Andy), Don Lewis, Jr. (Kim), Vince Lewis (Alysia,) Angela Lewis Hirsch, and his beloved grandchildren, Alexandra, Sara Kate, Owen, Juliette, Arabella, Marisa, Olivia, Isabelle and Gabrielle, all of Germantown, TN.

Visitation will be 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, June 13 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, 8151 Poplar Avenue, Germantown, TN 38139. Funeral Mass will be 10 a.m. Thursday, June 14 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church. Burial will follow in Calvary Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Birthright of Memphis or the Memphis Union Mission.
Published in The Commercial Appeal on June 12, 2018
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