Bisons reflect on passing of Jack Lewis
Bison Sports and the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management are saddened by the loss of long time Faculty member and Bison men's basketball head coach Jack Lewis. Lewis passed away on the morning of Friday, January 22 after a courageous battle with cancer. He was 74 years old.
Lewis was not only part of the Bison program but worked in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management for 30 years (1968-1997). He started his career at the University of Manitoba as he was first appointed in 1968 as an assistant professor and head coach of the Bison men's basketball program. The Winnipeg native was head coach for the Bisons from 1968-1972.
Lewis obtained his bachelor and masters degrees at the University of Washington in Seattle, coached in high school and men's leagues and worked in promotions with the Harlem Stars touring team before coming to Winnipeg. He took the Bison men's basketball program to national prominence in the late 1960's and early '70s.
Lewis coached the Bisons to the WCIAA (Western Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Association) championship in 1971 defeating UBC in the final. Lewis led the team to its' first CIAU (CIS) championship appearance losing in the final to Acadia. He recruited the core of the Bison teams that went to the National Championship in 1974 and 1975 and which won the Bisons first, and only, CIAU National Championship in 1976.
Lewis coached and was instrumental in developing four Canadian National Team members and four All-Canadians. His overall record at the University of Manitoba was 109-32. In addition, he was instrumental in bringing professional basketball to Winnipeg in the early 1990's with the Winnipeg Thunder.
"Jack was one of a kind. He was a very special man who was always there for friends and family," reflected Bison Sports Athletic Director Coleen Dufresne. "During the years I coached Tracey (Jack's step daughter), I was fortunate to have developed a lasting friendship with the family and I cherish the time I spent with Jack. I will truly miss him."
After coaching, Lewis continued his work at the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management. He was appointed Director of Athletics from January 1979 to July 1980. During his years, he was a coordinator of Recreation Internship Program and coordinator of Summer Camps and School Programs and taught basketball, badminton plus fieldwork seminar. Lewis retired as Associate Professor in May 1995. He was also awarded the Canadian Association for Healthy Physical Education and Recreation (CAHPER) Fellow Award in 1993 and was a member of the National Recreation and Parks Association; member of Manitoba Parks and Recreation Association; member of Canadian Parks and Recreation Association and member of CAHPER. Lewis had a post-retirement appointment from 1995-97 as a Sessional Instructor. He supervised fieldwork practicum, taught fieldwork seminar in the Recreation Studies degree program.
The Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management Associate Dean (Academic) Dr. Kelly MacKay commented, "We thank and remember Jack for all his contributions to the Faculty in his multitude of capacities over three decades. He was a large part of building the Faculty throughout his tenure."
Lewis is survived by son, Cory, and wife, Ruth. A celebration of Jack's life is being planned and details will be announced as they become available.