September 29, 2021
OBITUARY for Dr. James Neville Lewis James Neville Lewis, known as Neville, or ‘Nev’ as he was called by those close to him, was born to Olive Michael Lewis of St John’s, Antigua, and James Archibald Lewis of Bethesda, Antigua, on December 9, 1928, in Harlem, NY. He was the second child of three, the middle child between Carl, who preceded him in life and in death, and his younger sister, “Peaches” nee Claritha. In his early life, Neville lived among his nuclear and extended family, including his grandmother, and a host of aunts, uncles, and neighbors. While his father was organizing for the Amalgamated Laundry Workers, tensions escalated, and Neville and his siblings were sent to Antigua. His mother and her sister, Evelyn Michael, booked a passage on the Merissa. In Antigua Neville spent a year, going to school and taking part in the joy of riding horses with his brother, Carl, and sister, Peaches. Neville recounted this time fondly and often, as if it were recent history. When Neville returned to Harlem with his brother and sister, and continued his studies, he’d moved from the bottom to the top of his class owing it to his time under the rigor of the Antiguan educational system. James Neville Lewis attended PS 5 in Harlem, then PS 139, also known as Frederick Douglas Middle School where Harlem Renaissance poet and author, Countee Cullen, was his French teacher. At the end of his academic year, Neville thanked Mr. Cullen, and said he had one last question, “The word N-O-N? What does that mean?” Mr. Cullen looked in utter bewilderment and said nothing. After Frederick Douglas middle school Neville attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx and in 1948, he headed directly to Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas for two years. Neville and Carl transferred to the University of Western Michigan in Kalamazoo where Neville graduated in 1951 with a Bachelor of Science degree. As a son of Olive and Archie, he didn’t disappoint and attended Howard Dental School for four years, graduating in 1955 and then enlisted in the US Army, stationed at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island. The late 50s marked the beginnings of the Civil Rights era. We remember stories of segregated army officers and a high-ranking Black officer deciding to turn his head to avoid a lower ranking white officer who refused to salute his Black superior. Dad eagerly wanted to see how the Civil Rights movement was positioned to transform this nation. Although he might have been considered an armchair revolutionary, Neville sought to contribute through the integrity of his work, thereby investing in the larger cause. Working as a resident at Montefiore Hospital on Gun Hill Road in the Bronx, he met and married the love of his life – Marcelle Garnier, a nurse who’d recently arrived from Quebec. They married on February 24, 1957, at a chapel in St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Neville and Marcelle enjoyed visiting her family in Haiti, attending the opera, and traveling around the world. The couple had three children, Claude, Michele, and Carrie. When we called our cousin Stephanie to give her the news of Dad’s passing, she said, “Your dad was just fun!” Dad’s concerns were clear cut, how to be the best husband, provide for his children, have an honest dental practice, and enjoy the pleasures of family and friends. These things were central and shaped the dynamic of our extended family. We all enjoyed being up the block from Granny and Pop, and then around the corner from Aunt Peachie, Big Joe, Olive, and Joey. With the Airalls practically down the street, it was a slightly larger version of the apartment at 2460 7th Avenue. We all share so many memories of Dad, Uncle Neville, Poppa. We fondly remember the stories of the December birthdays. With Dad born on the 9th and Aunt Peachie on the 13th, Granny didn’t see a need to have two birthday parties – so all the boys from Dad’s party would chase the girls at Aunt Peachie’s party. We remember Dad saying, “Just do your best, that’s all I ask of you.” When asking too many questions; “Why Dad? – because Y has a tail and W has none.” Or to stop you from asking too many questions, Dad would say, “Curiosity killed the cat.” But he also taught us the retort, “but satisfaction brought him back!” Looking for new ways to make us skat he would sing, “Hit the road jack and don’t you come back, no more, no more, no more, no more...” Mom and Dad were true believers in the power of knowledge, and emphasized not just education, but curiosity and openness. As we prepared to go to church on Sundays, we asked, Dad, “Why aren’t you coming?” he would respond, “I go to Synagogue” Funny! Dad loved being funny. Dad wasn’t religious but followed the tenets of most major religions – be kind, give back, and ease the burden of others through charity. Dad showed us the power of kindness through actions. There are so many stories – some that we’re just learning now. Cousin Hyacinth told us that Dad had been the best man at her wedding and that she trained as a dental assistant in his office. And then there are the stories we know, such as when we worked in his office and would see cousin, Yvonne Airall signaling him to stop talking so much so he could move on to the next patient. Everyone has different memories. His grandson Marcus remembers making a simple boat from wood and rubber bands and taking the boat to the park to sail. Surya remembers how happy Poppa was to receive her school project—Flat Family--in the mail. Neville Pascal has memories of hearing Poppa talk about time spent with his brother Carl hunting rabbits. It is the memories that keep those whom we cherish, alive in our hearts. Neville wasn’t showy--he wasn’t interested in proving his worth or belonging to a particular group; but he was interested in enjoying the pure pleasures of life – his love of photography, good music, good food, his garden, the company of friends and family and always – a good joke. Sometimes a joke wasn’t so funny, but since he took such pleasure in telling it, you always wanted to laugh with him anyway. On September 29, 2021, Dr. James Neville Lewis passed away leaving a host of loved ones to cherish his memory: his beloved wife of 64 years, Marcelle Garnier Lewis with whom he shared the whole of his life; his three children, Claude, Michele (George), and Carrie; seven grandchildren; Surya and Marcus, Brian and Jocelyn, Neville Pascal and Sydale, and Arriana; his much beloved sister, Claritha “Peaches” Lewis Osborne, and a bevy of nieces and nephews, several cousins; and many friends and neighbors.
OBITUARY for Dr. James Neville Lewis James Neville Lewis, known as Neville, or ‘Nev’ as he was called by those close to him, was born to Olive Michael Lewis of St John’s, Antigua, and James Archibald Lewis of Bethesda, Antigua,... View Obituary & Service Information
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OBITUARY for Dr. James Neville Lewis
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