R.H. “Bob” Lewis, a former state senator from Spokane who also lived in the Olympia area for 34 years, died Friday. He was 90, his son, Jack Lewis, said Monday.
His father died in his sleep from natural causes at a Spokane nursing facility, Lewis said. No service is planned, but the family plans to scatter his ashes with those of his first wife, Peggye, later this summer, he said.
“He loved his family, and was very proud of his family, and he intentionally spent time with his family,” Lewis said, adding that he made a point to always spend a week with one of his grandchildren.
Robert Howard “Bob” Lewis preferred to be called R.H. Bob Lewis. A Republican, he served in the state Senate from 1973 to 1980, and represented District 5 in Spokane. He split his time between Olympia and Spokane where he worked in public relations for Lincoln First Federal Savings and Loan Association.
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After leaving elected office, he remained in Olympia and worked as a regulator of state-chartered savings and loans during the administrations of former Govs. John Spellman and Booth Gardner,Lewis said.
He was a longtime member of the Olympia Country & Golf Club and from 2005 until 2014 lived at Panorama in Lacey. He wrote two self-published books, “My Funny War” and “Speak Up & Move Up!”, and was working on his memoir before he died.
“He was very involved at Panorama, and was interested in resident life and improving the good of resident life,” said Howard Burton, director of marketing at Panorama.
“Speak Up”, which offered career advice, also provided tips on how to deal with the media. “If one is providing news, or is the news, all the facts are fair game,” he wrote. “It’s OK to be disappointed if only a portion of your remarks are printed or aired, but it’s not OK to be discouraged or complain.”
Lewis was born in Deer Park, outside Spokane, on Feb. 17, 1925. He was raised in north Idaho and went to Coeur d’Alene High School. After graduating, he and a best friend enlisted in the Army, intending to become pilots. But Lewis, who was color blind, instead became a paratrooper (his friend did become a pilot), and helped to liberate Italy and France during World War II. He was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge and received a Purple Heart. He later was awarded a Bronze Star, Lewis said.
After the war, R.H. “Bob” Lewis earned English and journalism degrees at the University of Missouri, edited a trade publication in Chicago and served on the Spokane City Council from 1964 to 1969.
He is survived by this third wife, Nathalie Jewett Smith, three children, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, Jack Lewis said.