You probably never knew his name unless you went to church or Bible study, or went to jail, or got pulled over for drunk driving. You might have met him if you were in the hospital and a volunteer was pushing your wheelchair.
Don was born in Rutland, Vermont on March 12, 1930. He was the son of Kenneth and Gladys (Parker) Lewis. He lived most of his life in Shelburne, Vermont and leaves behind his wife Carol and sons Ken, also from Shelburne, and Tim who lives in Burlington. He graduated from Rutland High School, worked at several farms then joined the Air Force. After his honorable discharge he studied at Champlain College where he met his wife and lifelong companion Carol. They graduated in 1959 and married in 1960.
He worked at IBM for 25 years and retired in 1992, which gave him time to follow his passions which included gardening and volunteering at The Flynn Theater and The University of Vermont Medical Center. He loved to travel and was amazed to be able to visit Greece, Europe, Israel, and more.
A deeply religious man, he and Carol founded The Walk To Emmaus and were active in Cursillo, Kairos, and CLIP. He beneficially influenced many lives with these ministries. He loved his Friday morning Bible study, and friends have said he embodied what Jesus wanted us to do.
One night a neighbor’s son was hit by a drunk driver who did not stop, and the boy was killed. Around that time Ken was hit by a sober driver who stopped, and Ken is still alive. When you get pulled over for drunk driving in Vermont you go see a Victim Impact Panel. Don as a member of several panels and told that story to everyone in the room many times over many years. He never drank a drop of alcohol in his life but he told the people in the room to drink if they wanted, just do not drive afterwards. Who knows how many lives his story may have saved? Tim drove him to meetings in Barre a couple of times and watched people’s faces be moved by the story.
For more than 52 years, he volunteered at the Department of Corrections working with the Victims Impact Panel, the South Burlington Reparative Board and spent many of those years in the prisons teaching courses in decision making. He would regularly take prisoners out on passes to give them a sense of family values and to let them know, despite their crimes, they could still be valued as human beings and heal.
His community service was rewarded by being named a Hometown Hero from the United Way, he earned the Vermont Department of Corrections Employee of the Year and the Vermont Alliance of Prison Ministries Certificate of Achievement. He felt especially honored by the Champlain College Alumni Leadership Award
In the last few years his body became frail, but his mind remained sharp and his gentle wonderful character always shone through. He touched many lives, and many lives touched him. He will now make Heaven shine a little brighter.
Burial will be at the convenience of the family. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 19 at 1:00pm at the Williston Federated Church. Memorial donations may be sent to Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, 1949 East Main St, Richmond, VT 05477.