Gregory Lewis, late Sun-Sentinel journalist who wrote the "Strictly Old School" blog in Florida, with American civil-rights legend Rosa Parks. Photo courtesy of the Sun-Sentinel and the Lewis family.
ONLY A FEW colleagues in life truly are worth emulating. Gregory Lewis was one of them. A veteran journalist at the Sun-Sentinel, the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, the News & Record and the Maynard Institute, Greg died Tuesday in Florida after fighting prostate cancer and diabetes. Greg was a first-rate editor, street reporter, political writer and Army brat who wrote moving stories on African-American culture and people. Many of those stories would have gone untold, if not for him.
A natural newsroom leader full of heart and goodwill, Greg was respected among coworkers of all classes and colors. He did it the old-fashioned, down-home way: he simply welcomed everyone. When I worked with Greg at the old Hearst-owned Examiner, he said, "You from the 'hood, Iwata? I'm a Southern boy, a farm boy. Let's talk." So we talked, over lunch or at a ballgame. Greg shared good words and advice, always boosting my spirit. He walked his talk, spoke truth to power. While many shunned diversity, Greg embraced it. He mentored many, and his impact rippled far beyond fancy business titles. In the late 1990s, when I thought we needed to push for more media diversity in the most diverse city in America, he looked at me and said without pause, "Let's do it, now."
Good people often leave us, with little chance to thank them. In Miami a few years ago, I wanted to show Greg my appreciation for his moral and professional support. Eager to explore the Florida wilderness, I hired a fishing guide and his speedy boat to hit the local lakes. But Greg regretfully couldn't make it. "Oh, man . . . " he said. Luckily, we spoke twice by phone, well before he died. Although he was weak and ill, he kept asking me how I was doing, what I was working on. A project on business diversity, I told him. "It's in our blood, isn't it?" he said, chuckling.
Many condolences to Greg's wife, Chandra, and family members. Please know that among journalists who had the good fortune to work with him, Greg's legacy lives on.
- Sun-Sentinel, "Journalist Gregory Lewis Dies at 57" by Mike Clary.
- Strictly Old School blog, "Dying Before Their Time" by Gregory Lewis.
- Strictly Old School blog, "An Emotional Search for a Father's History: Enlisted soldier was among first blacks chosen for War College" by Gregory Lewis.
- Richard Prince's media blog, "Greg Lewis Dies, 'Wrote from His Soul' .
- SFGate.com, "Gregory Lewis, Former S.F. Dailies Reporter, Dies" by Demian Bulwa.
- JugglingAct, "Farewell, My Strictly Old School Friend" by Mae Israel.
- Detroit Free Press, "Rochelle Riley: Florida Journalist Leaves Legacy in Detroit" by Rochelle Riley.