Don C. Lewis, 74, died peacefully in his sleep in his home in Trona, California, on March 19, 2023.
He was born Donald Mason Brown in Akron, Ohio, in January 1949, to Wanda Mason Brown and John Baker Brown Sr., the second of their four sons. From birth, Don was a very outgoing child, popular with adults and his peers. As a young child, he sometimes slipped away from playing with other kids to visit with adult neighbors.
Don excelled in athletics and played football from the Pee Wee League through high school.
He was a linebacker on the Akron East High School team that won the city championship in 1965. He was an avid fisherman in his youth, spending many hours with his family fishing in Lake Erie and throughout Ohio.
Early in his adult life, Don was a partner in a small firm that used computer technology to provide client graphics services. Later, he worked with the Delancey Street Foundation in San Francisco for many years. He played a key role in establishing Treasure Island, a residential academy for high-risk San Francisco high school students struggling with truancy, abuse at home, neighborhood violence, or other forms of instability.
Over the years, he mentored dozens of children, helping them to go on to stable and productive lives.
In this small, tight-knit community in the Southern California desert, he dedicated the rest of his life to raising his beloved granddaughter, Jennifer Rose Lewis, 9, who affectionately calls him Poppy.
An animal lover all of his life, Don was the owner of several dogs.
Don is survived by his son Donny, granddaughter Jennifer, brothers John Baker Brown Jr (Delilah Wynn-Brown) and Richard Oliver Brown (Marion), and cousin Maryam Suluki (Andre Williams), whom he and his brothers always claimed as their only “sister.” Don was preceded in death by his parents, his youngest brother Steven A. Brown, and his daughter Jennifer Lewis. He leaves behind a host of aunts, uncles, cousins, other family members, and friends.
Among his many attributes, Don projected a strength and confidence that made family and friends feel safe in his presence. He will be remembered for his outgoing personality, care, compassion for others, willingness to serve, and, most of all, love and devotion to his children and granddaughter.
He never hesitated to share his life’s lessons to help guide others.
His Delancey Street manager said, “Don had the biggest, most giving heart and leaves us his legacy of love and commitment to others.”