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Thomas Lewis
Funeral Time: Monday, March 19th at 12:30PM
Thomas P. Lewis, 87, former Dean of the University of Kentucky College of Law, died peacefully on Wednesday, March 7, 2018. Mr. Lewis was born in Ashland, Kentucky on March 26, 1930 to Blaine and Hallie Heal Lewis. Upon graduation from high school, he attended the American University in Washington, D.C., where his high school sweetheart, Nancy Magruder, joined him to be married. He returned to Kentucky to attend UK College of Law and was awarded his J.D. degree in 1954, graduating Order of the Coif and in the process achieving what was recognized for decades as the highest GPA in the history of the College. After receiving student deferments during the Korean War, he enlisted in the Navy immediately upon graduation from law school, where he served four years, achieving the rank of Lieutenant JG. While in the Navy, he served as an Officer of the Deck underway on an Amphibious Forces Flagship in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. He would later reflect, “In retrospect, I count my Navy experience as one of my most enjoyable and valuable.” He began teaching law at UK after returning from the Navy. Shortly thereafter, he was invited to become a Master of Laws candidate at Harvard. While at Harvard, his performance and publications enabled him to bypass a master's degree and become a candidate for an S.J.D. degree, the highest degree in legal education. He was awarded his S.J.D. in 1964 and his work for the Columbia Law Review (initially published while he was a student at Harvard) was later included in a bound selection of legal essays covering a 23 year period. He was also published in the Stanford Law Review, among others, and he co-authored a legal textbook, "Social Welfare and The Individual." His 1992 Kentucky Law Journal article, Jural Rights Under Kentucky’s Constitution, is still regarded as one of the foremost scholarly works on that topic. He was a full tenured professor at the University of Kentucky, the University of Minnesota and Boston University. He was widely recruited during his career for full and visiting professorships at a number of other institutions, including Stanford, Columbia, and the University of Chicago. While at BU, he was asked to return to UK as Dean of the Law School, a position he agreed to accept on the condition that he be permitted to establish a more robust and dedicated fundraising program for the College of Law. As Dean, he established the Lafferty Society and hired two Associate Deans, Carroll Stevens and Paul Van Booven, both of whom he described later as “indispensable,” to head up development. He also created a Visiting Committee comprised of leading practitioners and academics. He later wrote, “My thought was that the College had served the Commonwealth exceedingly well, but as the legal world continued to expand in the breadth and complexity of its scope, the College needed to expand its horizons and expectations a bit.” These fundraising and other efforts dedicated to the College, along with the work of many others over the past four decades, have been transformative to the College. Labor law was one of Professor Lewis’ principal interests. He arbitrated labor disputes in many parts of the country and became a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators, earning the Award of Distinction by the FMCS. Mr. Lewis was an avid golfer, playing until the age of 85 with family and friends. He was a loving husband during 35 years of marriage to Nancy, who died in 1984, where after he raised his 12 year-old son as a single father. He was also a loyal husband and caretaker of his second wife, Myrtle, with whom he lived in Florida for 17 years until her death in 2015. He was also preceded in death by four siblings, Martha Tate, Blaine Lewis, Dorotha Adams and Jimmy Lewis. He was a loving father to and is survived by his four children, Jean C. Lewis, FL, Catherine (Michael) Mills, Lexington, Jennifer (Tommy) Todd, Lexington, James Thomas Blaine (Judith) Lewis, Louisville; sisters Jean Ditty, Lexington and Mary Sue (Bill) Lykins, Aiken, SC; and six loving grandchildren, including his namesake, Thomas Lewis. The family would also like to extend a heartfelt and special thank you to a loving caretaker, Mary Riley. A memorial service will be conducted on March 19, 2018 at 12:30 pm at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home- Harrodsburg Rd, Lexington. Visitation will be from 10:30 am until the time of service. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Thomas P. Lewis Professorship, UK College of Law, 620 Limestone, Lexington, KY 40508.