John Kelly "Buddy" Lewis Jr.
1916 - 2011
McLean Funeral Directors - Gastonia
700 South New Hope Road
Gastonia, NC
GASTONIA - John Kelly "Buddy" Lewis Jr., 94, of Gastonia, passed away Feb. 18, 2011, at his residence after a lengthy battle with cancer.

A life long resident of Gastonia, Buddy will be remembered as a truly special person with the highest standard of integrity and propriety.

He balanced his quiet manner with an ever-present sense of humor and wit.

Buddy was born Aug. 10, 1916, in Gaston County, the son of the late John Kelly Lewis and Ada May Jenkins Lewis. He was predeceased by five sisters and two brothers.

Lewis, an avid sports enthusiast, began his baseball career as a young boy. He thrilled local baseball fans with his outstanding play for American Legion Post #23 from 1929-1933. He played on the North Carolina State All Star Team in 1931 and 1932 and helped lead his team to the 1933 state championship.

After high school, Buddy was recruited by Wake Forest University to play baseball, but after one year he signed a pro contract. He made the Washington Senators roster in 1935 as the third baseman. Four years later, he was moved to right field. He spent his entire 14-year major league career with the Senators, twice being selected for the American League All Star Team.

In 1942, he enlisted in the United States Air Corps, Lewis flew more than 342 missions to the South Pacific fronts of World War II where he delivered supplies and transported the wounded over the Himalayan Mountains between India, Burma and China. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1945, he was discharged as a captain and was back at Griffith Stadium in less than 10 days. He quickly regained his batting form, and the outfield for the 1947 American League All Star Game was Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Buddy Lewis.

Lewis retired from baseball in 1949, moved back to Gastonia and bought the Ford dealership which he successfully ran for 35 years.
American Legion baseball was always dear to his heart. He served as a player, coach, athletic officer and an area commissioner. He and Crash Davis led Post 23 to win the 1954 state and regional championships and was only defeated in the Legion World Series.

Buddy was honored by his induction into the inaugural class of the North Carolina American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967, the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 1975 and the Gaston County Sports Hall of Fame. In 2003, the city of Gastonia named the baseball field at Sims Legion Park the John K. "Buddy" Lewis Jr. Field.

Active in his community, Lewis was a member of First AR Presbyterian Church where he served as a deacon and elder. He was a charter member of the Gastonia Optimist Club, served as co-chairman of the Hospital Committee to build the new hospital, served as president of the Heart Association, was the recipient of the 1965 Civitan Citizenship Award, was awarded the Paul Harris fellow by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International and was a member of the Gaston Country Club.

Buddy is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 59 years, Frances Oates Lewis; two daughters, Kelly Lewis Burrell and her husband Jeffrey Burrell and Carol Lee Lewis; son, John Michael Lewis; grandchildren, Jordan, Parker and Rollins Burrell; Ashley and Kelly Brown and Stephanie and Jerry Lin-gerfelt; great-granddaughter, Apryl Brown; stepgreat-granddaughter, Baleigh Rowland; sister-in-law, Dorothy Herlong and her husband Dan; nieces and nephews, Billy and Bob Morris, Catherine Rhyne, Judy Rinn, Lewis Robinson, Jerrie Thompson, Bobbie and Ken Beam, Danny Herlong, Callie Mason, Bill and Vicky Oates, Johnny and Norma Oates, and Tookie and Joyce Oates.

The family is deeply grateful to his loving caregivers and staff of Hospice for their outstanding care of Mr. Lewis.
The family will receive friends from 1 until 3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 21, 2011, prior to the celebration of life service at First AR Presbyterian Church.

A service to celebrate the life of Mr. Lewis will be held at 3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 21, 2011, at First AR Presbyterian Church, 317 S. Chester St., Gastonia with Pastor Eddie Spencer officiating.

In lieu of flowers, the family request memorials be made to First AR Presbyterian Church, 317 S. Chester St,. Gastonia, NC 28052, Gaston Hospice P.O. Box 3984, Gastonia, NC 28053 or Crisis Assistance Ministry, 805 W. Airline Ave,. Gastonia, NC 28052.

Condolences may be sent to

McLean Funeral Directors of Gastonia is serving the Lewis family.
Published by Gaston Gazette on Feb. 19, 2011.
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Funeral services provided by:
McLean Funeral Directors - Gastonia
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24 Entries
U don't know me, but my heartfelt condolences to your family...U C, my own dad died 5 mos ago and the similitaries are many..he was born 8/12/16 and was a Baseball player too(St Louis Cardinals)AND was an Army Air Corps pilot also! so I know you have lost a great man&PATRIOT! I never thought I could say this 5 mos ago, but your grief will get better and your sorrow will be replaced w/WONDERFUL memories; GOD has a way of seeing us through this grief... take GOOD care-my Easter prayers will be for YOU, too!
Lee Ann MacMillan
April 20, 2011
He set a fine example for our son as he considered sports endeavors and gave him some good advice along the way. He will be missed.
Pat Wilhelm
March 25, 2011
My sincere condolence to the Lewis Family. Mr. Lewis gave me a signed baseball card on one of his many visits to the Post Office where I served him at the counter. I remember his gentle manner and soft smile. R.I.P. Ezeperee L. Mckinney
Ezeperee Mckinney
March 14, 2011
I will always remember what a fine man Buddy Lewis was. My father recalled many stories about Mr. Lewis and their long friendship. Gastonia was blessed to have such an inspirational citizen for so many years. My thoughts and prayers are with all of the Lewis family at this time.
Karen Boshamer
March 5, 2011
I'll fondly remember Mr. Lewis, particularly from the St. Andrew's days, as someone I looked up to and admired. He was always friendly and kind to me and my family. You have my deepest sympathies.
Walter Pursley
February 27, 2011
It was great to have the Lewis family across the street while us Hanna kids grew up. Mr. Lewis was so kind, patient and funny. I will hold those great memories forever and God Bless you all during this time of huge loss. He was a great man. Martha Jane Hanna Rogers, Phoenix, AZ
February 23, 2011
This great baseball player, an even greater human, stands forever
as a guide to greatness for the youngsters in Gaston County.
Watching Buddy play was like seeing a pulsating poem. His
grace and agility marked him as a wonderful athlete.
I loved him from our earliest days together. John Derr, Pinehurst.
February 23, 2011
Mike, Frankie and Family, I am thinking of you and praying for you. Sorry for your loss and may God Bless you and keep you in the days to come. Love you
Helen Stroupe
February 22, 2011
One of the finest players to ever grace the field at Griffith Stadium. Buddy's service to the game and to his country will serve as a shining example for generations to follow.
Phil Wood
February 22, 2011
John Michael, Now I know why you always told me that I reminded you of your fatther. He & I look alike. "Wish I could have met him when he was still in good health. I know that you will miss him!

Bob Reed
Bob Reed
February 22, 2011
Michael, I am so sorry for the loss of your father. My prayers go out to you and your family.
Jean Borhman
February 22, 2011
Buddy Lewis was a great man. He was loved by all. I am glad that he was a part of my life. Lewis K. Robinson
Lewis Robinson
February 22, 2011
I just want to say how sorry I am that MLB has lost one of its most outstanding people that I was able to make contact with over the last couple of years.

Buddy's Christmas card and autograph are a part of my huge baseball related scrapbook. that I have maintained. over the years.

Buddy's service to his country is indeed apprecited from this retired Air Force veteran.

May your family in the days ahead. find peace.God bless you.
Mike Dugan
February 21, 2011
I was always proud that Buddy Lewis was my uncle. He really exemplified the "greatest Generation". Tom Brokaw so named them due to thier grit during the Great Depression and World War II. Buddy did it all and much much more with a big smile on his face! May God comfort his beautiful wife,Frankie and children during this time of sadness. Judy Rinn (niece)
Judy Rinn
February 21, 2011
Buddy Lewis was a wonderful friend. It was a great pleasure to comverse with him at the farmer's market about his baseball career and life. I shall always
remember him with admiration and appreciation.

Dan A. Hopkins, Gastonia, NC
February 21, 2011
Lee, I am so sorry for the loss of your father. My prayers are with you and your family.
Nancy Ledford
February 20, 2011
May God bless all of you. Uncle Buddy was a fine man. Our love to Aint Frankie and the whole family.
Emilie Oates Sasser
February 20, 2011
I cannot begin to tell you how very sad I am about Mr. Lewis. He was one of the finest men that I have ever had the priviledge to know. My prayers are with you Frankie and your children. Always remember God is in control of everything.
Thelma Whisnant
February 20, 2011
Buddy was special from the Post 23 legion team of 1948 to time at First Federal and then the Sportsman's Club. Many fond memories
Bob Morris
February 20, 2011
It has been a blessing to know Buddy and his family. Buddy, had many achievments and awards but he remained humble and gave love and kindness to all people , I am glad Buddy, that you were my friend and that i had the opportunity to know such an amazing man. I will always cherish the memories of you. My thoughts, Love and prayers go out to his family. With Love, Linda
Linda Curtis
February 20, 2011
What a wonderful person Buddy Lewis was. A gentle giant, a friend to all. It was a priveledge to have known him. I was a member of Gaston Post 23 Area IV Championship Team that he coached in 1963. I think of him often. Condolances to the family.
Roddey Edwards
February 20, 2011
Kelly and Ashley, You will always be in my prayers. I'm sorry for your loss.
Kelly R. Clanton
February 20, 2011
Grace and peace to the family of this great man, father of my dear friend John Michael. You are all in our prayers.
Richard Neal
February 20, 2011
Howard Dills
February 20, 2011
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