Celebrating the life of James Lewis
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IL passed. James McDermut Lewis was found at home on June
30, 2021 at the front door with his car key in his hand. His
journey was further than his car was going to take him. He was
greeted in heaven by his mother, LaVerne Lewis, father, Dan
Lewis, brother Dan Lewis and nephew, Chuck Lewis. They are all
certainly discussing yesterday’s game.
Jim was born on December 12, 1951 in Concord, CA. The family
moved around the country many times before settling in
Champaign, IL. He completed his education there, Bottenfield
Elementary, Edison Jr. High, Champaign Central High School
(1970), University of Illinois B.A. in Physical Education (1974)
and M.S. in Computer Science (1982). For a brief time in the
1980’s he had a pilots license.
Jim was an Eagle Scout. He participated in group sports
throughout his life. He took great pride in learning to deliver an
onside kick for the high school football team. He made the special
team at the U of Illinois freshman squad as the place kicker. He
continued playing on sports squads, and found an affinity for
rugby. He participated in rugby games for years, and in socializing
with the rugby club for even longer. He also took a turn coaching
the woman’s rugby team.
Jim worked at CERL developing software for projects for the
Army Corps of Engineers. He also developed a software called L-
Zap designed to help people figure out how to pay off loans early.
Jim loved to cook. He enjoyed throwing parties and serving his
signature gourmet chili. He loved recreating meals he had enjoyed
at high end restaurants, or from his travels around the country
and abroad. He also enjoyed escorting his mother to his father’s
annual ship reunions, the USS McDermut for which he was
Jim was a raconteur. His stories would wind around to the point
where you thought he was lost, but in the end, every detail
counted. He was always ready with a movie reference, or a joke
with the aim to make someone laugh. He could chat with just
about everyone. He was colorful and one of a kind.
No man has had truer friends than Bill Campo of Urbana-
Champaign and Joe Mitchell of Springfield.
The last 16 years of his life revolved around health issues. His
family, sisters Carolyn Smith (Steve) of AZ, Mary Anne Silvestri
(Tony) of CA, and unofficial brother Daniel Yohannes and sister
Lily Yohannes of NC, and numerous nieces and nephews, wants to
express the deepest gratitude to Carle Hospital for treating his
physical issues while dealing with his struggles to communicate
after his stroke. The U of I Speech and Hearing Clinic was also
helpful in Jim regaining a lot of his speech. A special thanks to the
cancer team at Carle for their attention to detail in working with
him these last few years. Their care went well beyond physical
In lieu of flowers or charity donations, meet up with a friend to
watch a Cubbies game, grab a slice and toss back a cold one, stand
up and yell at a bad call, find something in common with a
stranger, make someone laugh.
Cremation rites have been accorded by Illiana Cremation Society. Condolences
may be sent to the family at James’ everlasting memorial page at:
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