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The Greg I never met
The pictures of Greg Lewis in the eight-page pamphlet, was all I had in memory of him. The photos, providing a brief insight into his life showed he was a man who chooses to see the glass half full rather than half empty. He had a toothy smile that was disarming. The type of smile that portrayed him as a man with a large and caring heart for everyone he met, irrespective of race.
I never met Greg at the Sun-Sentinel, where he spent 10 years covering the African-American community. It would have been fun to engage in a chit-chat. I would have asked him about his source of inspiration for creating the “Strictly Old School” blog, where he posted interesting write-ups about his life experience and those of fellow African-Americans. I would have asked him, if he thought he could take up another profession apart from journalism.
Greg lost the battle to cancer and diabetes on May 17 at the age of 57. He had been away from the newsroom before then, taking treatments. It was a battle he fought for two years. Colleagues at the Sun-Sentinel described his personality in lofty terms. I feel like I missed a great deal not meeting him.
The best I thought I could do was to ensure that I was present at the memorial service held in his honour, at the St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church, Plantation, Fla.
My eyes were heavy with tears, as I watched his daughter Gina, 22, read the eulogy she titled “Lessons from a Storyteller”.
“He invited everyone to his life through his stories,” she said, as she tried to compose herself, tears rolling down her cheeks. “He always said that you don’t have to be anti-anybody to be pro-black.”
Gina took me, along with the about 400 attendees, on an interesting journey into the mind of her father, using his write-ups on his blog, as a compass. One of the most touching articles, was perhaps, the one he titled, “55 years and still counting”. It was posted on March 13, 2009, his birthday.
“I’m 55 years old. I have now out-lived my dad by 18 years. He died at 37… Fifty-five years of mostly good luck has been with me. I have been in newspaper journalism for 33 of those years…I have no regrets. I still have goals to reach, which keep me alive, keep the blood pumping.”
The blood has stopped pumping. But his legacy and good works live on after him. He left behind his wife Chandra, Gina, his son Desmond, his mother Della Lewis Hayes, stepfather Nathaniel Hayes, his sister Candy Dingle, and a host of relatives and friends like me.
- Your Pal
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