Obituaries » James Robert Lee Lewis, II

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James Robert Lee Lewis, II

January 31, 1941 - August 6, 2021

Burial Date August 14, 2021

A celebration of life will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 14, 2021, at Leesville Road Elementary School. Interment will immediately follow in Fort Hill Memorial Park.

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This is the story of James Robert Lee Lewis, ll. A man that appeared as a giant among men who you could look up to and many would strive to emulate. Lee’s greatest treasure, and most dear to him, was his love for his family. Without a doubt, he loved deeply and filled each day with the words “I love you” and “Do you know how much?”  With each word, he would stare into your eyes and you just knew it was as pure as could be in meaning and spirit.  A wonderful man that was loved, will be missed, and will always be cherished. He has been such a gift to all of us.  Throughout his life he has been dubbed many names that will stay with us and have its own significant place in our hearts, Big Lee (Mathews), Hammer (Brookville Coaching), Papa Bear (family and school), and Poppy or Poppie (grandchildren and others who have become family).

Lee’s story starts on January 31, 1941, the youngest child to Irving Dallas and Edith Pearl. He was born in Mathews, Virginia on the Chesapeake Bay which forever resonated in the stories he would share with everyone about his adventures and love for growing up there. Lee could be found close to nature and enjoyed hunting and fishing.  To be sure, he was a particularly skilled hunter which continued throughout his life with an added passion for including his beloved turkey dogs along the way. He was also an exceptional football player for the Mathews Blue Devils.  Although he was small, he was known for being able to have a hard tackle.  As one headline read “Often Outweighed, But Never Out Played.”

After high school, Lee attended Lynchburg College and met Pamela Cornell.  After a whirlwind romance, they eloped on June 5, 1962 and have enjoyed 59 years together creating a family that would reflect the values they both hold dear.  Pam was everything he adored, and he made sure she felt just how much she meant to him.  Each shares a passion for science and education which ultimately became a part of their careers for Campbell County Schools.  Above all, their family has always come first.  Lee’s children and grandchildren were his heart and joy. There’s no denying that!

Miles of adventures and family experiences have developed through the years, gathering cherished memories. Lee loved family time spent at Smith Mountain Lake and Fort Myers Beach, Florida every year.  The Lewis’ could be found winding through the United States in their motorhome visiting theme parks especially Disney World, Sea World, and Busch Gardens as well as cruising the world.  The possibilities are endless and the zest for life, great.

To sum up the interests and talents of this wonder of a man…..Lee was renowned for his cooking and hospitality.  Family dinners were always a must together at the house.  Seafood would remind him of his childhood days.  When you visit Mathews, you are welcomed by a table full of blue crabs and family conversations around the table.  He enjoyed cooking for his staff, guests, and family.  His favorite moments were being in nature and watching the sun come up.  A genius innovator who could dream up useful tools and create them on the spot.  His storytelling ability was worthy of literary awards with rich, vivid details.  Lee’s love of sports involved coaching Brookville football, attending Philadelphia Eagles games and following Detroit Tiger baseball. Lee could strike a laugh from you with his humorous phrases and a flip of his eyelids turned inside out.  Lee’s career in education was something dear to him.  A total of 34 years of LOVING what you do and having an impact on the lives of many.  The opportunity was important and to him not a job but a privilege.  Most of those years were spent as principal of JJ Fray and Leesville Road Elementary, with some years in the beginning as assistant to TES.  Lee fondly called Leesville Road “his” and “my school” referring to the building, children and staff which he felt were a part of his family.  His presence would make you feel held, taken care of, protected, embraced, and most of all LOVED.  Lee’s powerful but adoring voice gave reason and sound advice whenever needed.  An attentive listener giving nods as you spoke and a slight pop of his lips.  The responses given back were thoughtful words carefully selected just for you to show his understanding and compassion.   A few words to describe his character shared by people: authentic, sincere, dedicated, thoughtful, humorous, icon, legendary, fighter and loyal.

Loved ones, that cleared the path for Lee, are his infant son, Blake Cornell Lewis; granddaughter, Avonlea Laurel Ellen Wilmer; grandsons, Ephram and Atticus Lewis; father and mother, Irving and Pearl Lewis; two brothers, Irving Lewis, Jr., and Sherwood Lewis; two-sisters, Marguerite Lewis Callis, and Joyce Lewis Jenkins; nephew, Bruce Jenkins. Loved ones that will miss Lee, until they meet again, are his wife Pamela Cornell Lewis; daughters Cynthia Lewis Harding (Robert) and Caryn Lewis Wilmer (Adam); his son, James Robert Lee Lewis III (Sunshine); six grandchildren, Brooke Harding, Trey Harding, Malory Harding, Killian Lewis, Solomon Lewis and Jasper Lewis; one great-grandson, Colter Vesey; a sister, Emily Lewis Toler; a brother, Gerald Lewis; nephews, Keith Toler, Alan Toler, and Robert Lewis; nieces, Gaynor Callis, Pam Winder, Breta Hoover, Bonnie Short, Andrea Bancells, Lori Cornell, and Kitty Hallett.

Lee will lie in repose from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Friday, August 13, 2021, at Tharp Funeral Home, Lynchburg.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 14, 2021, at Leesville Road Elementary School, with the Rev. Brad McMullen of Timberlake United Methodist Church officiating. Doors will open for public at 9 a.m.  Interment will immediately follow in Fort Hill Memorial Park. Masks are required for all attending, thank you in advance.

In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to his second home, Leesville Road Elementary School, for a legacy memorial created to support children who face great challenges and who Lee would want to uplift in any way possible. Send donations to 25 Lewis Way, Lynchburg, VA 24502, in care of Myra Garbee.

Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family.

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