Obituaries » James Robert Lee Lewis, II

James Robert Lee Lewis, II

January 31, 1941 - August 6, 2021

This is the story of James Robert Lee Lewis, ll. A man that appeared as a giant among men who you could look up to and many would strive to emulate. Lee’s greatest treasure, and most dear to him, was his love for his family. Without a doubt, he loved deeply and filled each day with the words “I love you” and “Do you know how much?”  With each word, he would stare into your eyes and you just knew it was as pure as could be in meaning and spirit.  A wonderful man that was loved, will be missed, and will always be cherished. He has been such a gift to all of us.  Throughout his life he has been dubbed many names that will stay with us and have its own significant place in our hearts, Big Lee (Mathews), Hammer (Brookville Coaching), Papa Bear (family and school), and Poppy or Poppie (grandchildren and others who have become family).

Lee’s story starts on January 31, 1941, the youngest child to Irving Dallas and Edith Pearl. He was born in Mathews, Virginia on the Chesapeake Bay which forever resonated in the stories he would share with everyone about his adventures and love for growing up there. Lee could be found close to nature and enjoyed hunting and fishing.  To be sure, he was a particularly skilled hunter which continued throughout his life with an added passion for including his beloved turkey dogs along the way. He was also an exceptional football player for the Mathews Blue Devils.  Although he was small, he was known for being able to have a hard tackle.  As one headline read “Often Outweighed, But Never Out Played.”

After high school, Lee attended Lynchburg College and met Pamela Cornell.  After a whirlwind romance, they eloped on June 5, 1962 and have enjoyed 59 years together creating a family that would reflect the values they both hold dear.  Pam was everything he adored, and he made sure she felt just how much she meant to him.  Each shares a passion for science and education which ultimately became a part of their careers for Campbell County Schools.  Above all, their family has always come first.  Lee’s children and grandchildren were his heart and joy. There’s no denying that!

Miles of adventures and family experiences have developed through the years, gathering cherished memories. Lee loved family time spent at Smith Mountain Lake and Fort Myers Beach, Florida every year.  The Lewis’ could be found winding through the United States in their motorhome visiting theme parks especially Disney World, Sea World, and Busch Gardens as well as cruising the world.  The possibilities are endless and the zest for life, great.

To sum up the interests and talents of this wonder of a man…..Lee was renowned for his cooking and hospitality.  Family dinners were always a must together at the house.  Seafood would remind him of his childhood days.  When you visit Mathews, you are welcomed by a table full of blue crabs and family conversations around the table.  He enjoyed cooking for his staff, guests, and family.  His favorite moments were being in nature and watching the sun come up.  A genius innovator who could dream up useful tools and create them on the spot.  His storytelling ability was worthy of literary awards with rich, vivid details.  Lee’s love of sports involved coaching Brookville football, attending Philadelphia Eagles games and following Detroit Tiger baseball. Lee could strike a laugh from you with his humorous phrases and a flip of his eyelids turned inside out.  Lee’s career in education was something dear to him.  A total of 34 years of LOVING what you do and having an impact on the lives of many.  The opportunity was important and to him not a job but a privilege.  Most of those years were spent as principal of JJ Fray and Leesville Road Elementary, with some years in the beginning as assistant to TES.  Lee fondly called Leesville Road “his” and “my school” referring to the building, children and staff which he felt were a part of his family.  His presence would make you feel held, taken care of, protected, embraced, and most of all LOVED.  Lee’s powerful but adoring voice gave reason and sound advice whenever needed.  An attentive listener giving nods as you spoke and a slight pop of his lips.  The responses given back were thoughtful words carefully selected just for you to show his understanding and compassion.   A few words to describe his character shared by people: authentic, sincere, dedicated, thoughtful, humorous, icon, legendary, fighter and loyal.

Loved ones, that cleared the path for Lee, are his infant son, Blake Cornell Lewis; granddaughter, Avonlea Laurel Ellen Wilmer; grandsons, Ephram and Atticus Lewis; father and mother, Irving and Pearl Lewis; two brothers, Irving Lewis, Jr., and Sherwood Lewis; two-sisters, Marguerite Lewis Callis, and Joyce Lewis Jenkins; nephew, Bruce Jenkins. Loved ones that will miss Lee, until they meet again, are his wife Pamela Cornell Lewis; daughters Cynthia Lewis Harding (Robert) and Caryn Lewis Wilmer (Adam); his son, James Robert Lee Lewis III (Sunshine); six grandchildren, Brooke Harding, Trey Harding, Malory Harding, Killian Lewis, Solomon Lewis and Jasper Lewis; one great-grandson, Colter Vesey; a sister, Emily Lewis Toler; a brother, Gerald Lewis; nephews, Keith Toler, Alan Toler, and Robert Lewis; nieces, Gaynor Callis, Pam Winder, Breta Hoover, Bonnie Short, Andrea Bancells, Lori Cornell, and Kitty Hallett.

Lee will lie in repose from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Friday, August 13, 2021, at Tharp Funeral Home, Lynchburg.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 14, 2021, at Leesville Road Elementary School, with the Rev. Brad McMullen of Timberlake United Methodist Church officiating. Doors will open for public at 9 a.m.  Interment will immediately follow in Fort Hill Memorial Park. Masks are required for all attending, thank you in advance.

In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to his second home, Leesville Road Elementary School, for a legacy memorial created to support children who face great challenges and who Lee would want to uplift in any way possible. Send donations to 25 Lewis Way, Lynchburg, VA 24502, in care of Myra Garbee.

Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family.

Burial Date August 14, 2021

A celebration of life will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 14, 2021, at Leesville Road Elementary School. Interment will immediately follow in Fort Hill Memorial Park.

Condolences & Tributes

Celebrate James Robert Lee's life with a short message, photo or video!

The Lynchburg Alumni Association expresses our sincere condolences to the family.

Posted by Lynchburg Alumni Association on August 23, 2021

So thankful for the opportunity to work for Lee Lewis. He taught others to really "see" people. While serving as principal, he showed compassion and care in an authentic manner to students, teachers and parents. His stories and legacy will continue to be shared in years to come. Prayers for his sweet family.

Posted by Kim Candler Douglas on August 14, 2021

So thankful for the opportunity to work for Lee Lewis. He taught others to really "see" people. While serving as principal, he showed compassion and care in an authentic manner to students, teachers and parents. His stories and legacy will continue to be shared in years to come. Prayers for his sweet family.

Posted by Kim Candler Douglas on August 14, 2021

My sympathy to the family. Having Lee Lewis as a principal was a privilege. I will always have fond memories.

Posted by Jo-Ann Helferstay on August 14, 2021

What a great man and friend, I had so many great times hunting and carrying him fishing, as well as the lake experiences! He came over my house to watch the redskins vs eagles after hunting, the eagles won so everything went well! He told me that night after a call against the eagles that he hated officials on all levels!! Rip my friend!!

Posted by Ronnie Callis on August 13, 2021

Words cannot express how deeply Lee will be missed by his family and the community. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

Posted by Betty Morris on August 13, 2021

Pam my heart goes out to you & family. I worked with Lee @ J J Fray Elementary as secretary. He indeed truly was a family man. Loved his family. Everyone loved him especially the students because they knew he really cared about them. Love & prayers to family & friends. He will be missed!!!

Posted by Carolyn Cunningham on August 13, 2021

Condolences to the Lewis family. Mr. Lewis was a compassionate friend to the Martin family for many years. I remember going to talk to him over the summer and sitting across his desk ………. And hearing him say after some small talk …….” What’s up gal ….? You can tell me ……..”. Very receptive and a father figure in many ways!

Posted by Fonda Martin on August 12, 2021

Lee Lewis was one of the GOATs. Period. Lee, I appreciate all you did for my children when they attended LRES ; it was a privilege to teach both your children and grandchildren and to work with Pam for many years. May God comfort you all during this difficult time.

Posted by Julia Thurman on August 11, 2021

It's difficult to put all my feelings about Mr. Lewis into words. His love of life and sense of humor were contagious! His love was ferocious for his family, school family (and we were a family under his leadership), and all the many students who were fortunate to have called him principal, teacher, or coach. We all called him friend. He was one of a kind. Until we meet again ...

Posted by Lynn Patterson on August 11, 2021

So Sorry Pam for your Loss praying for you and your family. May God wrap his loving arms around you and give you comfort.

Posted by Lorri Frank on August 11, 2021

My sincerest sympathy to his friends and family. I only met Mr. and Mrs. Lewis once and you could see the love they all had for each other. I loved to hear his son Lee talk about all their adventures in the RV. Precious memories that will live on.

Posted by Fred Bryant on August 11, 2021

Lee Lewis was one of a kind. Having him for a principal was one of my greatest blessings.

Posted by Kathy Lester on August 11, 2021

Lee was a very special man. As a principal, he always "had my back". RIP, Mr. Lewis.

Posted by Judy Hinnant on August 11, 2021

Many of my best childhood memories are of times spent with the Lewis family. As the father of my best friend, Mr Lewis treated me like one of his own. He “tried” to teach me to water and snow ski. He “tricked” me into eating deer meat, and laughed when I commented how great the burger was! He “brainstormed” 8th grade class secretary campaign slogans, “Honesty is the best Policy.” Wonder what he has in store for me in heaven? No doubt it will be something adventurous! Until we meet again. Mr Lewis…XOXO.

Posted by Daune Chagnon Morris on August 10, 2021

He was the best. My thoughts and prayers go out to your family and all that knew him.

Posted by Julia Gravette on August 10, 2021

He was the best. My thoughts and prayers go out to your family and all that knew him.

Posted by Julia Gravette on August 10, 2021

My daughters, Kelly and Holly, attended Leesville Road Elem. School and Mr. Lewis was their principal. It was apparent he loved his job and “his kids”. He gave many parents peace of mind because of that love! RIP Mr. Lewis

Posted by Janet Beckner on August 9, 2021

My daughters, Kelly and Holly, attended Leesville Road Elem. School and Mr. Lewis was their principal. It was apparent he loved his job and “his kids”. He gave many parents peace of mind because of that love! RIP Mr. Lewis

Posted by Janet Beckner on August 9, 2021

The best boss I ever worked for.Dedicated educator and love for children. Thanks for the memories and condolences to the family.

Posted by Lorene Speake on August 9, 2021

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