In Memoriam

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Gwendolyn Lorita Lewis ’65

A picture of Gwendolyn Lewis

Gwendolyn Lorita Lewis ’65, February 8, 2012, in Rockville, Maryland, from cancer. Gwen was born in Sweetwater, Tennessee, where generations of her family had resided. Her father’s work, supervising the installation of generators and other machinery, placed her in classrooms in Arkansas, Nevada, Puerto Rico, and Tennessee, before she concluded her schooling in New York. She earned a BA in mathematics from Reed and an MS from San Jose State College and a PhD from Princeton in sociology. She joined the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh in sociology and won a Fulbright-Hays research fellowship in 1976, which led to 18 months of travel and research in Turkey and to the publication of a groundbreaking work on the employment of Turkish women. Her career moved on to Cornell University, where she was senior research associate, and then she became director of the Premedical Education Project at the Associated Colleges of the Midwest. In 1984, she moved to Washington, D.C. There she met David Montgomery, an administrator in higher education, whom she married in 1987. In his memorial for Gwen, Dave wrote: “Because of business commitments, Gwen and I took a quick honeymoon after our wedding before our more substantial ‘second honeymoon’ a week later. The idea of multiple honeymoons was so appealing that we scheduled honeymoons at every opportunity thereafter. Our honeymoons hit not only Turkey, of course, but also Uzbekistan, Scotland, Hungary, Australia, Egypt, Jordan, and Tanzania, to name a few spots. Our trip in June 2011 to eastern Oregon was our 81st honeymoon.” Gwen worked for the National Research Council, the College Board, the University of Maryland University College, and the National Science Foundation. Then she shifted her career to the Department of Agriculture, where, as director of higher education programs, she oversaw the federal funding of programs in agriculture and renewable resources at state universities. She also served on several committees of the American Sociology Association, published in professional journals, and contributed to publications in student aid and to a series of annual almanacs of the National Education Association. During this time, Gwen also founded Reed’s alumni chapter in D.C. and was a member of the alumni board. She received the Babson Society award for outstanding volunteer work in 1989 from the alumni association and was elected an alumni trustee for 1994–98. In 1998, she took a sabbatical and discovered her passion for black-and-white photography. Her work appeared in more than 100 exhibitions in the D.C. area. She served as editor of the Brookdale Bugle, the neighborhood newsletter of the Brookdale community of Montgomery County, overseeing all areas of its production. She also saw to the planting of trees on neighborhood streets and in a local park and volunteered time for committees and campus ministry related to the River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation. Gwen was a volunteer tutor and photographer and a dedicated “weed warrior,” who helped rid Montgomery County of invasive species. Her cancer, of indeterminate primary origin, was diagnosed in August 2011. Survivors include Dave and Gwen’s brother. We learned from Bennett Barsk ’82 that attendance overflowed at the memorial service for Gwen in February. Bennett was there, along with Judith Bell ’63, Earl Metheny ’73, and Will Sibley ’51. “Gwen was an outstanding individual, and a real sweetheart to boot. She died far too young, and will be missed.” She was always grateful to Reed for the opportunities that the experience provided for her life.

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2012

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