Frank E. Lewis, May 6, 1925 – May 18, 2012
Mr. Frank Edward Lewis of Harstine Island passed away on Friday, May 18th, 2012, at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Washington, following recent heart surgery. Frank was born May 6th, 1925, in Grants Pass, Oregon; he was 87.
Frank and his wife of 51 years, Geraldine Waite Lewis, moved with their three daughters to Harstine Island in 1979 after he concluded a 34+ year career in the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service. He retired as Assistant Director of Aviation and Fire Management for USFS Region 6. He fought his first forest fire in 1937 at the age of 12, and every year thereafter throughout his career (with the exception of World War II), he was directly involved in firefighting activities.
Frank was raised in Randle, Washington, where he enjoyed hunting, camping and the simple life of a small town prior to following his father’s footsteps into a Forest Service career. He graduated as valedictorian of his Randle High School class of 13 students, and earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Forestry at the University of Washington in 1949. He interrupted his education during World War II to serve as an officer in the US Navy Reserve from 1943 to 1946. LT(jg) Lewis was stationed aboard the USS BLOCK ISLAND. Frank later earned a Master’s Degree in Forestry at the University of California, Berkeley. As a forester, he worked throughout the Pacific Northwest, Montana and Washington, DC. He retired as an administrator, but always regarded his time in the field as a ranger to be most rewarding. Soon after he retired, he was asked to provide his expertise to the US State Department in India where he lived for several months.
He was an active member of retired forester associations, and contributed to the National Museum of Forest Service History in Missoula, Montana. Each year, he looked forward to the annual gathering of retired foresters at Tokeland, Washington where he was well-known for his good humor, his homegrown oysters, and his special Bloody Mary recipe. This event and other forest service gatherings brought great joy to his life.
He was known for his hospitality and loved to share time with friends and family. He and Gerri frequently hosted dinner parties, picnics and clambakes to celebrate with large groups of friends and family and to support causes or organizations that were important to him such as Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity, the Forest Service and Republican Party candidates. Frank loved history and travel, and over the course of his long retirement, he was able to see the world. He also enjoyed investing, shellfish culture, skiing, photography, gardening, genealogy, natural resource management and boating.
He was an active member of local community organizations and dedicated many years to supporting and often leading them. These included the Harstine Island Community Club, Mason County United Way, Mason County Republicans, and the Shelton Yacht Club. He was an avid supporter of local political causes and candidates. In 1982 he ran for office as a 35th Legislative District Representative.
One of his favorite pastimes was participating in the Harstine Island Theater Club, an organization he joined during its earliest years in the 1980s. He served as President of the Board of the Harstine Island Theater Foundation whose purpose is to establish a performing arts center on the island. His children and grandchildren benefited greatly from his enthusiasm for community theater as he encouraged them to join him on the stage for many performances. He continued to participate in many of the activities he enjoyed until his passing; his good nature and sense of humor will be greatly missed.
Frank was preceded by his mother, Mercedes (Leonard) Lewis; his father, Melvin M. Lewis; his brothers, Dr. M. Leonard Lewis and George L. Lewis; his son, Fielding Vinton Lewis; his grandchildren, Brenna and Daniel O’Dair. He is survived by his wife Gerri, his daughters and their husbands: Nancy and Paul O’Dair, Mary and Greg Hoeksema, and Barbara and David Morrison; and his grandchildren: Calvin O’Dair, Ellen and Bennett Morrison, and Connor and Reese Hoeksema.
His graveside service will be held on Sunday, May 27th, at the Harstine Island Cemetery Memorial Garden at noon. A luncheon at the Harstine Island Community Hall will follow from 1:00pm to 3:00pm. A celebration of his life will be held later this summer.
In lieu of flowers, donations in his name may be made to either the Harstine Island Theater Club (PO Box 1054, Shelton, WA 98584 or ) or the National Museum of Forest Service History (PO Box 2772, Missoula, MT 59806 or visit www.nmfs-history.net).