John George Lewis, 88, son of Marion Matlock and Anna Bell (Stewart) Lewis, died at 9:15 a.m. at the Moore-Few Care Center in Nevada on Dec. 9, 2012. He was born Nov 24, 1924.
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, TN, 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. After the death of his father, he and his family returned to Schell City 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, #448 AF & AM. He was a member of the O’Sullivan Commandery No. 15 of Nevada 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’s 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; by 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; by his daughter, 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.
Funeral services were entrusted to the care of the Lewis-Hoagland Funeral Home of Schell City and were held at the Schell City United Methodist Church on Dec. 12. Pastoral leadership was provided by Rev. Connie Locke with assistance of the Rev. Dr. James L. Haddix. Special music was provided by Julie Wilson and Sharon Goodman. Pallbearers were Gary Dunn, Mike Burton, Bill Simmons, John Burton, John Gwyn, Dave Walters and Paul Palmer.
Interment with military honors were held following the service at the Green Lawn Cemetery in Schell City. Memorials are suggested to the Northeast Vernon County School Library in care of the Lewis-Hoagland Funeral Home.