Ex-Florida Rep. Lewis Dies of Heart Failure

Posted August 7, 2003 at 2:17pm

After a weeklong hospitalization and complications from surgery, former Rep. Thomas Lewis died of congestive heart failure Aug. 2 in his hometown of Palm Beach, Fla. He was 78 years old.

A lifelong Republican, Lewis served 12 years as the Representative of North Palm Beach, beginning in 1983. He stayed in that position until retiring in 1995.

His accomplishments in Congress include the passage of legislation that expanded Big Cypress National Preserve by 136,000 acres and working for a land exchange between Florida and Arizona that expanded the federal government’s ownership of environmentally sensitive land in South Florida. Lewis also served as a member of the Science and Technology Committee, where he helped save the Hurricane Hunter Plane Program, which sends planes to gather information on hurricanes for meteorologist.

An Air Force veteran of World War II and the Korean War, Lewis began his political career in 1964 when he won a seat on the North Palm Beach village council. He went on to become the mayor of North Palm Beach before winning his bid to become a member of the Florida House of Representatives in 1972 and the state Senate in 1980.

Lewis is survived by his wife of 54 years, Marian; his three children, Mickey Lewis Bowman, Thomas F. Lewis III and Nancy Lewis Heins; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.