ALBANY -- Former Councilman and Mayor Bill Lewis died on Nov. 21. He was 79.
"He was probably the most honest person I've ever known," his wife of 59 years, Shelia Lewis, said. "Very family-oriented."
Current Albany Mayor Peggy Thomsen recalled him as "a really good person who listens " well to people, whatever their politics. "He's a really giving person. I think his personality is what made it possible for him to bring people together."
Thomsen ordered the flags on city buildings to be flown at half-staff in Lewis' honor.
Jack Rosano was a lifelong friend.
"We met when our kids first started Little League and we've been together ever since," Rosano said. "Sixty years now. I've lost a dear friend. Our kids all went to school together and went camping together. We all went up to the lake every year."
William Allen Lewis was born Aug. 17, 1934, in Richmond. He was the seventh of eight children and graduated from El Cerrito High School in 1952. He worked for Chevron for 15 years and then for the Defense Department for 21.
"He worked for EPA before there was an EPA," Rosano said. "When the ships would come in he would check the cargo."
Lewis then worked for the Navy as deputy director of the Point Molate Fuel Depot, helping shut the base down so that it could be turned over to the city of Richmond. After retiring, Lewis and his wife moved to Lake County.
"He had a little vineyard and grew grapes and made wine," Shelia Lewis said. "Good wine. We got the first and second place ribbons at the county fair. He was very proud of it."
Bill Lewis began coaching Albany Little League teams and eventually served as league president. He was appointed to a city commission and soon was drafted to run for City Council. Lewis served as mayor in 1980-81.
"He was a hands-on politician," Rosano said. "He didn't just talk, he actually got in and did things. For that, people admired him."
Shelia Lewis said her husband "was interested in all of it and thought he could make a difference."
Bill Lewis' favorite accomplishment was the Teen Center that now bears his name. The building was originally part of the Albany Hospital and Peggy McQuaid remembered it being trucked across town to its current site at Ocean View Park. It's a preschool now.
Lewis and his wife had three children: Leah (who died at age 21), William Jr. and Michael. He is also survived by five grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and one sister.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Dec. 7 at Sunset View Cemetery in El Cerrito. The burial will be private. Donations may be made in Lewis' name to the Bill Lewis Teen Center.