John George Lewis

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

John George Lewis, son of Marion Matlock and Anna Bell Stewart Lewis, died at the Moore-Few Care Center in Nevada, Mo., on Dec. 9 2012. Born Nov. 24, 1924, he was 88 years of age. John attended Schell City schools, graduating in 1942 from Schell City High School. Upon graduation he enlisted in the Army of the United States. He was a combat infantryman and a battery heavy machine gunner for the 605th Battery of the 71st Infantry Division in the Middle European Campaign. He earned two bronze stars for heroic and meritorious service. He crossed the Rhine River on a stone bridge on Christmas day, 1944. The 71st liberated the Gunskirken Lager concentration camp in Austria. John, with others from the 71st, was honored in September 2001 by Holocaust survivors of the camp for his role in their liberation. His service left him with a life-long aversion to chicken, a dish he studiously avoided for the rest of his life.

After the war, John attended the University of Missouri and was a life-long fan of the Missouri Tiger football team. He graduated from the Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Science in Nashville, Tenn., and followed his great-grandfather and father as a licensed funeral director and embalmer. For five years, John owned and operated a store and funeral service in Metz, Mo. After the death of his father, he and his family returned to Schell City, Mo., where they joined in the family business, Lewis & Son Hardware Store and Lewis & Son Funeral Home, which he continued until his retirement in 1991. His was a life-long devotion to Schell City and its people.

John was a member of the Schell City Presbyterian Church, of the Metz Methodist Church, and of the Schell City United Methodist Church. He was a faithful member of these congregations and always sought to serve Christ and others. He served in several civic organizations over the years, among them the Schell City Lions Club and various groups devoted to community development. He was a member of the Schell City Alumni Association, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the White Shrine of Jerusalem, and the Eastern Star. He was recipient of a 65-year pin from the Masonic Lodge and was a member of the Schell City Lodge of the Masonic Order No. 448 AF&AM. He was a member of the O'Sullivan Commandery No. 15 of Nevada, Mo., and a 32nd degree life member of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, S.J., in the Valley of Fort Scott, Orient of Kansas. He was a member of Springfield, Mo., Abou ben Adam Shrine of Shriners International. John served as a director of the Farmer's State Bank when it was locally owned.

John was predeceased by his parents; his sister, Mae Frances Lewis; brother, Lucius Lewis; and by his daughter, Anna Ruth. He is survived by his loving wife and life partner of 66 years, Frances Zoe Bowman Lewis; daugher, Frances Ava; six grandchildren, April Seely, Gary Dunn, Brandi Ulery, Mike Burton, John Burton, and Verla Murrell; seven great-grandchildren, Anna Ulery, Kaitlyn Herrick, Erica Herrick, Eternity Dunn, Joseph Dunn, Lorelei Burton, and Aspen Burton; his sister, Margaret Ann Lewis Haddix; a nephew, James Lewis Haddix; a niece, Judith Ann Haddix Gwyn; members of an extended family and a multitude of friends.

His funeral service, entrusted to the care of the Lewis-Hoagland Funeral Home of Schell City, will be held at the Schell City United Methodist Church today, at 11 a.m., officiated by the Rev. Connie Locke with the assistance of the Rev. Dr. James L. Haddix. Special music will be provided by Julie Wilson and Sharon Goodman. The pallbearers are Gary Dunn, Mike Burton, Bill Simmons, John Burton, John Gwyn, Dave Walters, and Paul Palmer. His interment, with appropriate military honors, will be held following the church service at Schell City's Green Lawn Cemetery. Memorials are suggested to the Northeast Vernon County School Library.