QUINCY - George Jacob Lewis, 88, of Quincy, died peacefully and surrounded by family, on July 14, 2019 at Good Samaritan Home in Quincy.
Funeral services were held on July 19 at Ellington Presbyterian Church with Rev. Ron Cox officiating. Burial was at Hersman Cemetery.
George was born Aug. 17, 1930 in Rushville to Dana Mendel Lewis and Gladys Elizabeth (Hersman) Lewis. He married Joan Garrison, daughter of attorney Franklin Davis Garrison Sr. and Lillian Louise Brown Garrison, on June 19, 1951. She preceded him in death on May 8, 2017.
Survivors include three children, Karen (Stephen) Forte of Bend, Ore., Sheri (Mike) Jackson of Littleton, Colo. and Gary (Debby Davis) Lewis of Quincy; four grandchildren, Paul (Jennifer) Forte of Bend, Ore., Michael (Stephanie Wuerth) Forte of Oakland, Calif., Jesse Jackson of Spokane Valley, Wash. and Mikki Jackson of Littleton, Colo.; several step-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren; siblings, Jean Delap, Ruth Henderson, Dana (Anita) Lewis, Dick (Cheri Lee) Lewis, Dr. Charles (Marney) Lewis of Mendota, Anne Ford and Mary (Jack) Garland; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife; his parents; one daughter, Ronda Kay Lewis; one brother, John Lewis; three brothers-in-law, John Henderson, Keith Delap, and Dave Ford; and one sister-in-law, Katherine “Kay” Rose Governale Lewis.
George was raised working on his family’s farm in Hersman (named after his great-grandfather, Jacob Hersman). He graduated from Brown County High School in Mt. Sterling in 1948. While in high school, he was active in basketball and worked on the school newspaper, was president of his class and president of the Science Club. He was a county and state Outstanding 4-H Club member and a delegate to the National 4-H Club Congress. He won 15 local, district, and state I.H.S.A. public speaking contests. He was also very active with F.F.A. (Future Farmers of America), serving as chairman on the State Champion F.F.A. Parliamentary Procedure Team. He won the National/Regional F.F.A. Public Speaking Contest and placed 4th in the National F.F.A. Public Speaking Finals. He was president of the local chapter of F.F.A. as well as the State F.F.A. president. He accomplished all of this by the time he was 18 years old.
After high school, George stayed home on the farm and was awarded his American Farmer Degree (an F.F.A. distinction). He was a junior leader of the local 4-H Club and was ultimately elected as the national president of F.F.A. As national president, he assisted with organizing the F.F.A. of Japan and toured the U.S. fulfilling the extensive duties of a national officer. He even visited the White House to meet with President Harry Truman. The relationships created between George and the five other national officers were bonds which endured the rest of his life.
In 1951, he was active in “The Campaign Among Youth For Support of International Christian University In Japan.” He won the North American essay contest resulting in being one of two youth in North America to represent this group on a trip to Japan. He appeared before the Emperor of Japan and attended the opening of the new university near Tokyo. Being the bright young man that he was, George seized this opportunity to marry his high school sweetheart and use the voyage to Japan as a honeymoon as well.
George also excelled in other religious activities serving as moderator of the local youth organization, Westminster Fellowship, and was elected moderator of Presbytery in State and National Westminster Fellowship. He was president of the State Interdenominational Christian Youth Organization, delegate to World Conference of I.C.Y.O. in Toronto, Canada and executive director of the State I.C.Y.O. for one year.
As a student at the University of Illinois, he was elected to the board of directors of the university Y.M.C.A. He graduated with high honors and a B.S. degree in Agricultural Science. He was an honor student in the College of Law and was designated as a Fullbright Scholar to conduct legal research and study law for a year at the University of London. Besides earning a certificate of completion from the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London, George and Joan later co-authored a book detailing their adventure, “Rolling in the Isles.”
After returning from England, George served with the U.S. Air Force as a procurement officer. While there, he also took night classes at the Washburn University Law School. He eventually earned a J.D. degree from the College of Law at the University of Illinois.
In 1958, he moved his family to Quincy and began practicing law, which he did for 57 years. He was senior partner in his law firm, served as vice president of the Adams County Bar Association, was a member of the Illinois and American Bar Associations, and served as chairman of the Illinois State Bar Association Committee for Legal Research by Electronics. In 1970, he was elected as a delegate to the Sixth Illinois Constitutional Convention and served by appointment of the president as chairman of the Legislative Committee of the convention. In that capacity, he contributed to the re-writing of the Illinois Constitution.
He enjoyed bridge clubs, dominoes, photography, gardening, landscaping, antiques, volunteering to help install shallow wells in Malawi, Africa with the Marion Medical Mission, spending time with family and friends, and exploring numerous countries throughout the world.