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Raleigh "June" Lewis was born in 1939 in Clay County, Georgia. One of five children: Born to Jack and Velma Lewis along with siblings: John, Herb, Barbara and Betty.
He knew at an early age that education was critical in his mission to not only better his station, but that of others affected by social injustice and inequality.
Childhood and Education
Following his graduation from high school Raleigh went on to attend Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. It was there that he became a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. An organization that would go on to be a tremendous source of pride, strength and brotherhood for him.
It was at Lincoln U. that Raleigh met the love of his life, Donnie Holt of St. Louis, Missouri. The couple were married in October, the Fall of 1962. Upon their graduation the couple relocated from Jefferson City to Hartford, Connecticut. There Raleigh went on to pursue a higher education.
It was during this era that he became involved in the many organizations both social and academic that would support and fuel his strive for change.
Marriage and Family
Raleigh and Donnie were blessed with three children: Keven, Djuana and Cheryl Lewis.
Deeply committed to the Civil Rights Movement, involvement in one's community was an ideal of great significance within the Lewis household. An ideal Raleigh helped to instill in his children and grandchildren. To extend yourself to others in need, to not just take note but take action where there is injustice.
Raleigh's many endeavors in furthering his education and fighting to attain equality would later end up taking him and his family from one side of the country to the other. With stops in Massachusetts, Illinois and Washington.
In Massachusetts he completed the graduate program for an EDD degree in Education Administration at the University of Massachusetts. In Illinois he completed the Leadership Development program at JFK School of Government of Harvard University. He also went on to manage the statewide program for the Governor's Office for the State of Illinois.
Later on the west coast he directed the Civil Rights Commission for the State of Washington. For the State of Oregon he directed the Civil Right Division. Also the Bureau of Labor Industries for the Governor's Office for the State of Oregon. As well as the Affirmative Action Direction for Business Oregon, was formerly the Manager of the Office of Minority, Women and Emerging Small Business for the State of Oregon. Served on the board of directors for Jobs For Justice, served on the Board of Directors for the Black United Fund of Oregon. and finally was a member of the Coalition of Black Men.
Raleigh was a very friendly and loving man. He enjoyed golf all of his life and played often with friends and colleagues. When many think of him it will be in memories of him on the Golf Course.
He was very involved with all of his grandchildren. He made sure that all knew the importance of being a good, kind and courageous person. That the foundation to achieving all of your aspirations in life began within your own heart. You must know yourself and trust what you believe. Stand for what you believe is right.
Known as "Grandpa" by his grandchildren and their friends, he could be counted on to be in the stands at many a sporting event. Now whether you wanted to hear him there or not was another story. What you did know was that you were in for a hearty piece of advice one way or another. Sometimes the advice wasn't always what you wanted to hear or came the way you wanted to hear it. But most times it was certainly what you needed to hear after all.
And let's face it, if you knew nothing else about Raleigh, you knew that he loved to hear the sound of his own voice. And oh, what a voice it was. A voice of righteousness and determination that when used on your behalf was a thing of beauty.
He will be remembered for his easy laugh and the famous "Lewis Smile".
He will be remembered for his intelligence and determination.
He will be remembered for his commitment to Civil Rights and his family.
He will be remembered for his willingness to lead others and help them to achieve their goals.
He will be remembered because for many there will be a place in their hearts that will forever be missing that one special piece that once made it whole. Waiting to be reunited once again.
He will be remembered because he was loved.
Raleigh was preceded in death by his brothers John and Herb and sister Barbara.
He is survived by his wife, Donnie Lewis: son, Keven: daughters, Djuana and Cheryl: grandchildren, Kara Lewis, Gavin Lewis-Van Vleck, Natalie Van Vleck, Olivia Van Vleck, Ivy Van Vleck and Chantall Manzo. Also his sister Betty Thompson, her husband Richard and many nieces and nephews.