Allen Lew made dozens of friends over a half-century of daily visits to Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach. This Sunday, his friends are preparing to honor Lew, 80, who died suddenly on April 26, with a memorial in the spot where the Oakland man and his windscreen were a comforting familiar sight.
The memorial begins at 10 a.m. Sunday on the beach at the intersection of Shore Line Drive and Shell Gate Road. It will be followed at 11 a.m. with a meal at Buffet Fortuna in Oakland, which friends said was Lew's favorite eatery.
"Allen was always there for us," said Pamela Perry, who met Lew in the late 1980s when she moved here from New York and is organizing the memorial. "He watched our kids, he patched our wounds. He built us windscreens." Perry said Lew was a tailor who made his own 20-foot-long windscreen, bathing trunks and other items, like a dust ruffle for her bed. She said the trunk of Lew's classic car contained everything from sewing supplies to first aid items, which he would offer when needed.
Mary Windom said Lew befriended her from his perch on the beach when she moved here in 1985. Windom, a self-employed single mother, said Lew lent a helping hand with her two children and a listening ear for her troubles. When her car was stolen after a day on the beach, Lew helped her get it back, Windom said.
"Every time I was kind of sad for some reason, job or personal -- I could talk to him," Windom said. "He was my best friend." Friends and family said that in the winter, the retired Gerber plant worker -- who never married -- would sit on the grass in the beach parking lot and when the weather was poor or he couldn't get his usual parking spot, he would remain in his car, drinking hot water. His hours on the beach earned him the tagline, "4Ever Tan." "He just loved to go down there. He would turn as dark as he could be," said Lew's sister-in-law, Annie Lew, who said many of Lew's friends have phoned her since his death. Lew is survived by sisters Jeanie, 92; and Dorothy, 89; and brothers Frank, 87; and Jerome, 77.
Lew's friends -- beachgoers, park workers and others -- will on Sunday remember a man they said did everything for everybody, and who they said was taken away from them too quickly and too soon.
"He's an amazing, amazing man," Perry said.
Contact Michele Ellson at firstname.lastname@example.org.