Death Notice -- Ambassador Samuel W. Lewis Jr. - Services, March 24, 2014
Samuel Winfield Lewis Jr. died peacefully on March 10 at his home in McLean, Virginia after a short illness. He was born in Houston, TX on October 1, 1930. Ambassador Lewis was one of the nation’s leading diplomats, having advised Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton. A celebration of the life of Sam Lewis will be held on March 24, 1:30 pm at St. Alban’s.
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Growing up in Houston, Sam demonstrated early leadership potential as an Eagle Scout and later earned a scholarship to Yale University, where he received his bachelor’s degree. After a master’s at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, he joined the US Foreign Service. With his vivacious wife, Sallie, at his side, he held posts in Italy, Brazil, and Afghanistan, where he served as deputy chief of mission. During his extraordinary eight-year tenure as ambassador to Israel (1977 – 1985), he was a key negotiator at the 1978 Camp David talks that resulted in the historic peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. Sam also held a number of critical positions at the State Department, including assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs.
After retirement, he was president of the United States Institute of Peace; the Samuel W. Lewis Hall at the Institute’s Washington headquarters honors his three decades of peacemaking. He continued his involvement in diplomacy and conflict resolution as director of the policy planning staff under President Clinton. He also worked with nonprofit and academic organizations, including Search for Common Ground and the American Academy of Diplomacy, and was a frequent foreign policy analyst for print and broadcast media. He lectured at numerous universities and received six honorary doctoral degrees, among other international awards.
Sam Lewis was an ardent Democrat, a patron of the arts, a doggedly hopeful Redskins and Nationals fan, and a man of faith. The Lewises considered St. Albans Episcopal Church, Washington, to be their spiritual home and its members their extended family, much like their Foreign Service colleagues from their early days. Sam was elected to St. Albans vestry, was a lay reader, acolyte and chalice bearer, and served as a Stephen Minister. The Lewises have been active participants in retreats, pilgrimages, study groups, and outreach ministries.
His wife, Sallie Smoot Lewis—his teenage sweetheart— and their children, Grace and Richard, survive him.
A celebration of the life of Sam Lewis will be held on March 24, 1:30 pm at St. Albans. In lieu of flowers, the family would welcome donations in Sam’s name to:
St. Albans Church, 3001 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington DC 20016
Neve Shalom: Oasis of Peace, Wahat al-Salam
Page Updated Last on: Mar 20, 2014