The Paine College Family Mourn the Passing of Dr. Ronald McGhee Lewis, First Brother, and Friend

September 7, 2022

President Cheryl Evans Jones and the Paine College Family are grieving the loss of beloved former First Brother, Ronald M. Lewis, the spouse of the 13th President and President Emerita, Dr. Shirley A.R. Lewis. Dr. Ronald M. Lewis served as the Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of Undergraduate to Graduate School Placement at Paine College. Affectionately known as Dr. Ron, he steered many of Paine's students to top graduate programs. He also served as the founding director of the Mellon Mays program at Paine. Due to his efforts, record numbers of international students from Africa and the Caribbean enrolled and graduated from Paine.

"We remember Dr. Ronald M. Lewis as a caring professor and faithful servant who encouraged students to go the extra mile," said President Jones. "He challenged students to reach and take risks. He provided opportunities for growth outside of the classroom and beyond the walls of the College."

Dr. Lewis graduated from Schenley High School (1953) and Pennsylvania State University (1957). His graduate degrees include a Master's in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh (1959) and a Ph.D. in Education from Stanford University (1979). He also received a certificate in African Studies from the Universities of London and Ghana.

He worked as a psychiatric social worker during his military service at hospitals in Washington, DC and San Francisco. Well respected in the community of Pittsburg, California, he helped to form the National Welfare Rights Organization during the community's reaction to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

He served as a faculty member in the Community Organization program at the School of Social Work at the University of California at Berkeley and recruited a record number of Black students into the Social Work program. He played a pivotal role in the movement to include Black History and Culture into the mainstream of the University. This work led to the foundation of the first Black Studies program at Berkeley with Dr. Lewis as the first program coordinator in 1968 where he served until 1971. While pursuing a Ph.D. in Education at Stanford University, he worked as a Director of Student Affairs at Nairobi College in East Palo Alto. He helped recruit students, non-traditional and citizens returning from prison. In 1979, he migrated to Nashville on a post-doctoral fellowship and later went to work at Meharry Medical College in the Department of Psychiatry. From there he went to work for Nashville Public Schools and became Coordinator of Social Work and Attendance for the district. His journey at Paine College began in 1994 when his wife became president of Paine College.

Mr. Jeffrey Lanier Jones, Instructor of English at Paine College, commented, "Dr. Ron was truly a gentleman and a scholar. He loved his students and mentored them exceptionally. As a student, I was amazed at his deep intellect and warm compassion. I had the opportunity to take his Sociology of the Black Experience course, and it opened my mind to Black writers and the global Black experience that I now share with my students. His love for travel and teaching has forever inspired me as a man, a scholar, and a professor. He will be deeply missed!

The Paine College Family expresses love and condolences for his wife of 59 years, Dr. Shirley A.R. Lewis, daughter Mendi Lewis Obadike, son-in-law Keith Obadike, grandsons Uche Obadike and Jide Obadike and extended family.

The Celebration of Life service will be held on September 10, 2022, at St. Mark's United Methodist Church, 54 Elm Street, Montclair, New Jersey 07042. Correspondence may be addressed to Martin's Home for Service, 48 Elm Street, Montclair, New Jersey 07042, telephone: (973) 746.2158.


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