Note: This page is part of the Governor's News Archive, which holds press releases from January 2009 through September 2011. Since October 2011, recent news can be found in the Newsroom and archived news is available at news.delaware.gov.
YORK, Me. – At a private gathering with family and friends in late August, Jack Lewis was presented with the Order of the First State for his accomplishments as an artist and for his contributions to the State of Delaware over nearly three-quarters of a century. The Order of the First State awarded to Mr. Lewis by Governor Jack Markell is the highest honor for meritorious service the governor can grant.
“It was my great pleasure to be able to bestow this distinction upon such a deserving person, who spent so many years in Delaware sharing his wonderful gifts with his fellow Delawareans and encouraging them to appreciate the beauty of the world around them,” said Governor Jack Markell.
Long-time friends Jim Flood, Sr. and Mary Flood traveled from Delaware to Maine to present the Order to Mr. Lewis on behalf of Governor Markell and the State of Delaware and to celebrate the occasion with Jack and his family.
Mr. Lewis expressed his great appreciation for the award and said how much he missed Delaware. He and his late wife, Dorothy, moved to Maine in the 1990s to be closer to family, but a large part of his heart remained in Delaware and with the marshes and other landscapes he enjoyed depicting over the years.
Born in Baltimore in 1912, Jack Lewis first appeared on the Delaware scene as an artist with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1936. He was assigned the job of recording in pencil on sketchpad and in paint on canvas the daily activities of three Delaware CCC camps involved in mosquito control in Lewes, Magnolia and Leipsic. After the CCC, Lewis remained in Delaware as a freelance artist exploring the area between the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays. In 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and was sent to the Pacific.
After returning from the Pacific, Mr. Lewis received his master’s degree and began teaching. He taught art in Delaware public schools and at Delaware Community College from 1949 to 1976, but continued painting, as well. He published several books of his artwork over the years, with forewords written by notable Americans such as N.C. Wyeth and Eleanor Roosevelt. After retiring from his career as a school art teacher, Mr. Lewis taught at various places throughout the community, including the Delaware Correctional Center.
In a 2007 article in “Outdoor Delaware” magazine, Joanna Wilson wrote that “reviewing [Jack’s] astonishingly prolific body of work is like traveling back through time, especially looking at the early pieces that capture many of Delaware’s now long-lost landscapes, waterfronts, farms and villages.”
Jack Lewis paintings can be found in many places of honor, from private homes to museums and galleries, and from the side of a grocery store in Bridgeville to Legislative Hall. In 1986, Lewis was commissioned by Delaware’s Legislative Council to create murals celebrating the bicentennial of Delaware’s Ratification of the Constitution. These murals can be seen hanging in Legislative Hall in Dover.
In addition to the Order of the First State, Jack Lewis was also a 1981 recipient of the Governor’s Award for the Arts.
To view some of his art, please visit: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=250350&id=8066779953