Former Director of Alumni Relations Dies; Was Active in Local Land Preservation

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., Feb. 6, 2001 — R. Cragin Lewis of 800 Oblong Road died yesterday at Sweet Brook Care Centers in Williamstown following a brief illness. The former director of alumni relations at Williams College was 81.

“Craig Lewis was a tireless worker for Williams, as secretary and agent for his class, as chairman of the Alumni Fund, and finally as director of alumni relations,” said President Morton Owen Schapiro. “Under Craig’s leadership, the college greatly expanded its programs for alumni, especially those that brought current faculty together with graduates for their continuing education.”

In 1986, then President Francis C. Oakley awarded Lewis the Rogerson Cup, the college’s highest honor for alumni service. He came to Williams in 1974 as associate director of alumni relations and director of public information. The following year, the positions were split and he served as director of alumni relations from 1975 to 1986. He helped plan the college’s 200th anniversary celebrations in 1993 as a member of the Bicentennial Commission and edited the popular “Williams 1793-1993: A Pictorial History.”

Lewis was known for his exceptional attention to detail, a trait developed over the 28 years that he had served as editor of the magazine Medical Economics, for which he also had written hundreds of articles.

From 1941 to 1942 he worked as an editorial assistant to Roger William Riis, roving editor at Reader’s Digest. During World War II, Lewis served on a destroyer in the Pacific Theater of Operations as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy.

His civic involvement included service on the Board of Governors of Hackensack (N.J.) Hospital from 1966 to 1974 and on the Board of the Williams Club of New York.

Locally he was active in the land preservation movement, particularly with the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation (WRLF). He had served on the foundation’s board since 1990 and as its clerk secretary since 1992. He had donated to it a conservation restriction on his property on Oblong Road where it joined other conserved properties.

“He was truly a wonderful friend of WRLF, not only as a board member but as a conservation leader in the community,” said foundation Executive Director Leslie Reed-Evans. “He did everything with such grace and care. We will truly miss him.”

Lewis was born Nov. 1, 1919 in New York City to Raymond W. Lewis, M.D., and Alice (Cragin) Lewis. He grew up in Riverdale, N.Y., and graduated from Deerfield Academy in 1937 and from Williams College in 1941.

He leaves his wife, Mary E. (Mink) Lewis; two sisters, Mary Lewis Wang of St. Louis and Alita Lewis Homan of Walnut Creek, Calif.; four nephews and one niece, Scott Lewis Pennington of South Burlington, Vt., Gordon William Pennington of Portland, Ore., Penelope Wang Baitz of New York City, Timothy Cragin Wang ’79, M.D., of Boston, and R. Randall Wang ’80 of St. Louis, and 12 grandnieces and grandnephews.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, Feb. 17, at 11 a.m. in Thompson Memorial Chapel on the Williams Campus. Arrangements are being handled by Hopkins Funeral Home, 61-67 Main Street, Williamstown. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial donations be made to Williams College. Gifts can be sent to P.O. Box 231, Williamstown, MA 01267.


Published February 6, 2001