Friday, June 1, 2007

John Lewis, 1939-2007

John M. Lewis, known by some as "Mr. Fayetteville," died today at 67. A sixth-generation native of Fayetteville and one of the city's most respected community leaders, Lewis was the former chairman of First National Bank who went on to form The Bank of Fayetteville in 1987 and served as its president and CEO for 18 years. While at the bank, Lewis and University of Arkansas Chancellor Dan Ferritor initiated The Aladdin Project that helped create an electronic community of individuals and groups in Fayetteville when the WWWeb was young. At the same time he embraced the benefits of technology, he also recognized the value of history and led by example in restoring the Lewis Brothers building as a bank and creating the "train station" branch on Dickson Street.

Among his many wise words of advice, he said, "Fayetteville has always been unique, a city of charm and grace, of style and dignity. We need to remember that and build upon those inherited characteristics, our common distinctions and accomplishments. We must share this common background with our children and with our friends, and just as important, with the many new residents moving into our area."

Since retiring as president of the Bank of Fayetteville, John Lewis continued to be involved with civic and regional issues and became even more active in community life in northwest Arkansas. Some current projects he was part of include creating the Northwest Arkansas Museum Foundation to conceptualize and build a museum and a science and technology center for northwest Arkansas; developing the Fayetteville Community Foundation; and managing a technology incubator, through the newly formed Arkansas Technology Development Foundation.

He was my friend. His energy, optimism, enthusiasm, vision, and dedication to our community will be missed by everyone.

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