Wheatland has lost a man of integrity. Dave Lewis was a man of his word and taught his sons by his actions and example. Two days shy of turning 95, he passed on at the Platte County Memorial Hospital in Wheatland.
Dave’s parents were Anne (Eklund) and Dr. David Joseph Lewis, Sr. His sisters were Annabelle Lewis Patton and Jane Lewis Luers. He survived them, and most of his friends, though George Good and Eldon Allison are still smiling. Dave grew up in Springfield, Ill., attending Springfield public schools. He was a 1940 graduate of Springfield High School, where he was actively involved in sports. He golfed, played baseball and played football as captain of his team. Later during college, he played golf for the University of Minnesota team.
After high school Dave attended the University of Minnesota for three years, then joined the United States Navy during World War II. He attended Midshipman School at Columbia University, New York City. He was commissioned as an Ensign in 1944 and continued his education, attending gunnery school and destroyer school in Washington, DC. Then he was sent off to serve in the Pacific Campaign on destroyer USS Bristol DD857, boarding in San Francisco.
In August 1945, when WWII ended, the USS Bristol was off Japan near Hiroshima. A few weeks after the A-bomb, Dave and others were sent to tour the city remains on a flatbed truck. They were not allowed to get off since the radiation factor was unknown. He seldom talked of this. He received his Honorable Discharge in 1946. On Oct. 11 and 12, 2011, Dave participated in the Honor-Flight Wyoming for WWII veterans, traveling to Washington, DC to view the Nation’s WWII Memorial. He was very honored and impressed with the war memorials.
After the war, he stayed in the Navy Reserve and the United States government financed his final year of college at the University of Minnesota, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Science.
In the early 1950’s Dave came west to wonderful Wyoming. He owned and operated the Wheatland Coast-to-Coast Hardware Store for several years. Dave married Joann Straw. September 12 is their 67th wedding anniversary. They had three boys: Robert (wife Sally), Ronald (wife Martha), and Jon (wife Connie). There are four grandchildren who loved him very much: Alayne (Matt), Carlyann, Melissa, and Jeremy.
In 1968, Dave and Joann pulled up roots and moved the family to Greeley, Colo. He worked in retail there for ten years, while Joann taught elementary school. The boys all graduated from high school and attended college in Colorado. In 1977, Dave, Joann and Jon moved back to Wheatland for permanent residence.
Dave was a jack-of-all-trades, working in retail stores and warehouses, a lumber yard, a grain elevator, a bowling alley, and managed Vimbo’s Motel. He even had a real estate license for a short time, but we believe he only did that to take the classes. He crafted wood knick-knacks that Joann could use as toll painting projects. As a young man, he coached little league baseball and followed his boys in all the sports they excelled in. For his entire life, Dave was an avid outdoorsman, hunting big game and wild fowl, and fishing lakes and rivers from Wyoming to Idaho. He was a great father and grandfather. After retirement, Dave and Joann traveled North America with their various RV rigs, roaming from Alaska to Mexico. They also had a snowbird life taking up residence in Sun City, Arizona, to escape the Wheatland winters.
The last few years have been a challenge. Despite health issues, Dave insisted on living in the house adjacent to the Wheatland Golf Course. Jon and Con devoted themselves to assisting both Dave and Joann in their desire to remain home. The family also thanks all the caregivers who have tended to our parents needs 24/7 and made theirs a comfortable existence. Dave’s last few weeks were spent between the hospital and the Legacy Center. We thank all those who assisted with his care and treatment in his final days.
Dave asked that there not be any funeral services. It is his wish to be cremated. The family is honoring that request. Please make any memorial contribution to Services for Seniors, 1605 Sixteenth Street, Wheatland, WY 82201.
The Gorman Funeral Homes – Platte Chapel of Wheatland are in charge of the arrangements.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.gormanfh.com