Richard Taylor Lewis

Lewis—Richard Taylor Lewis, 81, on August 27, 2016, in Salem, Ore. Dick was born on April 19, 1935, in Los Angeles, Calif., to Emma Gertrude Taylor and Austin Flint Lewis, a descendant of Margaret Fell. Beginning piano lessons at five years old, Dick grew up in Pasadena, Calif. He attended liberal First Friends Church (since laid down), which was pastored by activists Stuart Innerst and Elmer Brown, and joined Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) in high school. His conscientious objector (CO) cousins influenced him during summers on his uncle’s wheat farm near the small Quaker community of Gate in the Oklahoma Panhandle. He attended Pasadena City College and received a bachelor’s in forestry from University of California in Berkeley. Registering as a CO, he served two years in Japan for American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), distributing surplus food and clothing, teaching at Friends Girls School in Tokyo, serving as unit financial officer, participating in weekend work camps, and learning Japanese.

For Los Angeles County, he headed the Henninger Flats nursery, growing trees for planting along roadsides, before returning to Berkeley for a master’s in Asian studies. He met graduate student Rose Warner at Berkeley Meeting, and they married in 1966 under the care of the meeting. After a year-long wedding trip around the United States, they became co-directors of the AFSC East Asia International Work Camp program. In Japan and Korea they did earthquake relief, built terraced fields for a community of cured lepers, and planted a sugarcane field windbreak of trees.

In 1969 he began study for a doctorate in Japanese politics at University of Washington, and he and Rose were active in University Meeting in Seattle and with Pacific Yearly Meeting’s Friend in the Orient Committee. They returned to Japan in 1973 for his dissertation research, and after receiving his degree, he was a visiting scholar in the Department of Peace Studies at University of Bradford in West Yorkshire, England, where they attended meeting. In 1980 they moved to Oregon, joining Salem Meeting and planting their ten acres of land with thousands of trees and bushes. In addition to work at Job Corps in Portland and at Hillcrest juvenile facility, he taught Japanese in several high schools and Chemeketa Community College.

He clerked Salem Meeting and represented North Pacific Yearly Meeting on AFSC and Friends Committee on National Legislation national boards. The peace vigil he and Rose led Salem Meeting to sponsor still continues. In 1983 they brought Ana del Carmen and Marta Beatrix, ages six and three, whose Mayan Indian parents had been killed in a village massacre, from Guatemala. The girls became the focus of the family, adapting to their new life with enthusiasm in spite of the racism their family encountered.

After retirement he taught English for two years at Chengdu University of Information Technology. In 2008, he helped start the Oregon State Penitentiary Friends Worship Group, and he and Rose started an Alternatives to Violence Project there and helped with workshops at Sheridan Federal Correctional Institute.

Interested in everything and enjoying lively conversations, he was known for his jokes, puns, and funny stories, and could fix cars, farm equipment, appliances, and electronics. He remembered hundreds of songs and melodies, including classical, folk, spirituals, swing, and boogie-woogie, and could play a full-blown rendition after hearing a melody once. He continued to play piano right up to the day before he went to the hospital with the pneumonia that ended his life.

Dick is survived by his wife, Rose Warner Lewis; two daughters, Carmen Lewis and Marta Weiss; and one grandson.

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