John G. Lewis, 88, of Roseville, Calif., died peacefully Sunday, Feb. 23. John was born Oct. 28, 1925, in Somerset, Ky., to Victor Wallace and Bertha Gover Lewis. He served in the Navy from 1944 to 1946 then completed his education, earning a Master of Science degree in nuclear physics from Emory University in 1951.
John accrued an exemplary career of almost 60 years working to safeguard the defense of our nation. He entered government service in 1951 as a scientist with the U.S. Army Engineering Research & Development Laboratory, Special Projects Branch; completed his government career as Chief, Strategic Structures Division, Shock Physics Directorate, of the Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA) in 1974; and eventually joined R&D Associates (RDA), becoming vice president and retiring in 1990.
John was recognized by the Department of Defense for his technical contributions and leadership in the development and management of nuclear weapons test programs critical to the survivability and integrity of the nation’s strategic nuclear force. In 1997, the Defense Nuclear Agency presented John a Lifetime Achievement Award for:
“more than 30 years of sustained superior contributions to the defense of the United States. … He was the major inspiration and force behind the early development of nuclear weapons effects programs in shock physics and hardened military facility design in the three Services … co-author of American Society of Civil Engineers Manual 42, ‘Design of Structures to Resist Nuclear Weapons Effects’ … was influential in advancing the understanding of nuclear effects both in space and in the atmosphere through underground nuclear effects testing … served as a key technical advisor to the Agency as chairman of working groups … that greatly advanced the understanding of hardened silo response to nuclear blast and shock, and that defined hardened basing concepts for the Small ICBM and the PEACEKEEPER missiles. Mr. Lewis’ singularly distinctive lifetime achievements reflect immense credit upon himself, the Defense Nuclear Agency, the Department of Defense and the Nation.”
John loved his family and friends. He and his wife of 63 years Carroll made many friends as they moved from Alexandria Virginia to Pacific Palisades then on to Aptos, Auburn, Marina del Rey and finally to Roseville. Every new home offered an opportunity to make new friends. John and Carroll traveled often to visit their children and grandchildren in California, Texas and France.
John was also passionate about music. He loved Big Band Jazz, played the trombone and was a member of several bands, including the Doctors of Swing, as well as the Pacific Palisades Oom-Pah-Pah Band, for which he served as director for 15 years.
John was also a car enthusiast who enjoyed owning and driving interesting cars and working on car projects with his sons. When not occupied with bands and cars, John played golf and enjoyed wood working and home remodeling.
John Lewis was many things to many people – family, friends and colleagues. He enjoyed people and helping people. He always treated everyone he knew or met with kindness, courtesy and respect.
John is survived by his wife Carroll, as well as their children Stacy (and Dr. Christian) of Beziers, France; Scott (and Janette) Lewis of Austin, Texas; and Stuart (and Amy) Lewis of Auburn, Calif.; and their families, including grandchildren Joshua Lewis, Dr. Mark Parahy, Bryan Parahy, Kaitlin Lewis, Emilianne Lewis, Analiese Lewis, Eric (and Christi) Williams, Thomas (and Evelyn) Delaney and Jennifer (and Joel) Aguilar; and great grandchildren Taylor, Cameron, Owen and Hannah.
John’s family hosted a Celebration of Life on Wednesday, March 5, at the Village Center at Eskaton Village, Roseville. John will be inurned with Honors at the National Cemetery in Dixon, Calif.