Louise Wilson Lewis


Louise Wilson Lewis, a Glendale civic leader and lifelong volunteer activist, died at home on August 18 after an extended battle with metastatic melanoma. She was 64.


Louise was born in Los Angeles at Good Samaritan Hospital on June 9, 1947. Her parents were Ralph Arza Wilson and the former Silvie Seymour Wallace. Louise grew up in Atwater Village, where she soon revealed what would become a lifelong trait: the willingness to raise her hand when anyone asked for volunteers.


While still in elementary school, she tutored fellow students in math and reading and served as an assistant in the vice principal's office. At 12, she began teaching Sunday School at St. Francis Episcopal Chapel, where she was very active in the youth group. At 16, responding to her priest’s suggestion, she began volunteering as a candy striper at Glendale Memorial Hospital.


 That was also the year her father died. Louise, the elder of two daughters, was thrust at a young age into a family leadership position. As always, she accepted the responsibility and did what needed to be done.


After graduating from John Marshall High School, she enrolled at Pepperdine University as a pre-med major but financial pressure on her family soon diverted her from school to the business world. For fourteen years Louise was the office manager for the Walt Disney Studios technical division known as "the Machine Shop," where she worked under the legendary innovator Don Iwerks. When he eventually decided to leave Disney and strike out on his own, Louise went with him to help co-found Iwerks Entertainment. Then she retired early to devote herself to volunteering.


While Louise never realized her youthful ambition to become a doctor, she enjoyed an extraordinary 48-year career at Glendale Memorial Hospital as a volunteer. In 2008, the hospital recognized her for having given 32,000 hours of service. During her career as a volunteer, she served on the hospital's Community Board; as the first woman chair of its Health Foundation Board; and as president (several times) of its Auxiliary Guild.

Beyond Glendale, Louise served two terms as president of the San Gabriel Area Council of Hospital Volunteers, and two years on the Volunteer Board of the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems.


Louise also remained very active at St. Francis Episcopal Chapel. She put time into the Altar Guild, the Thrift Shop, the Girls’ Youth Group and Vacation Bible School, and served as junior warden, Bishop's warden and in other capacities. (Most notably, she was the first lay vicar in her diocese.) She further served the Glendale community through P.E.O. and through Las Candelas, which helps emotionally disturbed children.


"Volunteering is not a choice, it's a responsibility," Louise once said. "It's ingrained in me to give back to the community."


The many honors she garnered as a volunteer include Glendale Memorial's Values in Action Award; the Uni-Health Hospital System Volunteer of the Year for 1997; the Glendale Young Women's Christian Association Woman of Heart and Excellence Award for 2004; and the 29th Congressional District's Woman of the Year for 2005. "For many years, Louise has brought an abounding spirit and energy to her service to the community," said Congressman Adam Schiff, in remarks that were printed in the Congressional Record.


Louise and her husband, Timothy F. Lewis, grew up within a mile of one another in Atwater, yet their paths never crossed until they met on a blind date. They married in 1973, bought a house on Don Carlos Avenue in Glendale, and spent 38 happy years there. 


They also explored the world together, often by ship. Whether steaming up the Amazon River on a cruise ship or rolling down the highway in their motor home, Louise viewed life as an adventure. "She always had some kind of exciting thing she wanted to do," her husband said. "She was fearless."


That fighting spirit sustained her through her long battle with cancer, which finally ended on August 18. Her survivors include her husband, Tim; her sister, Charlotte, of Rancho Cucamonga; her brother-in-law and his wife, Craig and Karen Lewis, of Ojai; numerous nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews; and the many hundreds of close friends she made in the course of a very full life.



Funeral services are scheduled for Wednesday, August 31 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 1020 N. Brand Boulevard, Glendale.



In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Glendale Memorial Health Foundation, Louise Lewis Tribute Fund.  Donations can be mailed to: Glendale Memorial Health Foundation, 1420 S. Central Ave., Glendale, CA 91204.






















Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World