Longtime Spokane Valley activist Al Lewis died at his home on Wednesday, just two days after he was diagnosed with liver cancer. He was 54.
His death shocked friends and colleagues, who remembered him for his dedication to his family and to the community.
Mike Senske, who owns Painted Hills Golf Course, said he and Lewis talked about flooding problems around Chester Creek during a telephone conversation just the night before Lewis died. Lewis served on the county Water Quality Advisory Board. Senske is a member of the Chester Creek Watershed Committee.
“I’m just astounded,” Senske said Thursday upon learning of Lewis’ death. “There are few people who gave a lot, and give a lot, like Al did.”
Lewis, a 22-year Valley resident who owned an insurance agency, was elected a freeholder in 1992 and was involved in writing a proposed city-county charter.
But Lewis’ talent, energy and dedication to community service did not stop there, friends said.
He also was a member of the Spokane Regional Council, the Regional Transportation Policy Board, Momentum and the Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“He did it with an enthusiasm and passion that is rare,” said Ray Murphy, Valley Chamber president and CEO. “He was opinionated. He stuck to his convictions and you respected him for it.”
A former member of the county’s Wastewater Management Board, Lewis worked on the study on the need for Valley sewers.
A Republican, he ran unsuccessfully for Fourth District state representative in 1988.
“He had a burning interest in his community,” Senske said.
Lewis’ dedication to his son, who is mentally retarded, led him to become an active member of the Association for Retarded Citizens, eventually serving as local and state president.
Lewis is survived by his wife of 33 years, Joan, and Ken, an adult son.
A memorial service is set at Ball and Dodd Funeral Home-South, 421 S. Division, next Saturday at 3 p.m.
“I think Spokane has lost someone who participated in every way in the political arena,” Senske said. “It’s a great loss.”