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Thomas Z. Lewis

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Lewis, Thomas Z. Unfortunately, passed away on December 28, 2012, from a lingering illness. He was born in Gary, Indiana on January 12, 1946, where he attended Pulaski Elementary and Middle School and graduated from Tolleston High School in 1964. Upon graduation, he joined the United States Air Force and proudly served his country in DaNang, South Viet Nam. Following an Honorable Discharge, he matriculated to Indiana University to further his education. There he received his undergraduate degree and immediately entered law school. Tom was an outstanding athlete in baseball and basketball, so while he was an undergraduate, he tried out for IU's baseball team and made it as a walk-on. But more importantly, he became the starting centerfielder and the leadoff man. He was only able to play one year, but during that year, he led the team in stolen bases and in triples. He was so proud of those accomplishments, particularly as a walk-on. In appreciation of his skills and knowledge, the coach made him an assistant coach while he attended law school. As for his basketball skills, he had to make do with pick-up games at the HPER building with Scott May, Quinn Buckner, Bobby Wilkerson and others. His long jumpers were the talk of the campus. He never met a shot he didn't like. After graduating from law school, he returned to Gary and worked with the esteemed attorney, Fred Work. After honing his skills there, he joined his brother, Attorney Robert L. Lewis, where he remained until his passing. Tom's love of sports and entertainment led him to concentrate his practice in sports and entertainment law. He became renowned in his field and had clients coming from all over the Midwest and beyond, looking for stardom. Some of the celebrities Tom worked with, included singer/actress KeKe Palmer, singer Howard Hewitt, boxer Angel Manfredy, Billy Joel's band member Crystal Taliaferro (Gary's own) and other singers, rappers and hip-hop artists. The law office was all abuzz whenever they would visit. Aside from being a member of Indiana's Bar, Tom was a member of the Black Entertainment and Sports Law Association (BESLA), and a longtime member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Additionally, when IU established its police cadet program in the early 70's, Tom was one of the first members. Several years ago, he received his 25 year I-Man award from the university at one of the football games. He had lost his legs in a motor vehicle accident several years earlier, but nevertheless, he proudly walked on the field with his prosthetics, because he had a disdain for his wheelchair at the time. It was another proud moment for a courageous and proud man. Tom had a number of loves. Aside from the love of his family, he truly loved the Lord, his work, and of course, Indiana University sports. He put the "fan" in fanatic. Even while struggling with his illness, he wanted to know if the IU basketball team had played and if they won. Tom was also a major boxing promoter. He promoted a number of fights for an up-and coming Garyite named Duke Tanner at the Gary Genesis Center and also promoted major fights at the Star Plaza Theater in Merrillville. Tom's life was consumed with sports and entertainment, morning, noon and night and he loved every minute of it. Before he passed, he indicated that he had no complaints about life, and if he passed, God had blessed him with a wonderful life. Preceding him in his passing were his parents, Ernest and Johnice Lewis; his sister, Josephine Brooks and his brothers, Edgar Lewis, Ernest Lewis Jr. and David D. Lewis. He leaves to mourn his passing, his lovely wife, Barbara Lewis; five children, Raven Lewis, Ryan Lewis, Brent Williams, Kelley Pifer and Keeley Garrett; eleven grandchildren; three brothers, Arthur (Coach) Lewis, Robert (Wanda) Lewis and Paul Lewis; special sisters-in-law, Twilla Lewis and Annette Lewis and a number of other relatives, friends and acquaintances. A special mention goes out to friends, William "Dollar Bill" Waller, Johne Battle, Nate Cain, Dr. James Dye, Bob Ware, Attorney Gregory Reed, Ivan "PrimeTime" Woodard and Dusty Snowden.

Published in the Post Tribune on Jan. 5, 2013
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