POTSDAM - William J. Lloyd Lewis, 83, passed on peacefully surrounded by love and family at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, NY on July 9, 2019. He was born on September 2, 1935 to William W. Lewis and Winifred Lloyd Lewis in Utica, NY. Bill was a devoted and loving husband to his wife of 55 years, Patricia (Trish), and beloved brother of Margaret Smith of Burnt Hills, NY a caring father to daughter Carrie Livernois and husband, Glenn of Norwood, NY and daughter, Krisanne Bayer and husband, Bill, of Dobbs Ferry, NY. He was a cherished grandfather to Leah and William Livernois, and Caroline and Hudson Bayer. He was “Uncle Red” to several wonderful nieces and nephews: Eric Smith, Ginny and husband, Jim Burke, Diane Smith, Jean Smith, and Lawrence Smith and wife, Jodi and wonderful grandnieces and grandnephews: Lindsay and Ashley Burke, Rachel Simonds, Ryan and Samantha Devlin, Drew and Tyler Smith. Bill was also “Coach Lewis” or simply “Coach” to his track athletes, and a friend to many in the Potsdam United Methodist Church and throughout the North Country. Bill’s gentle soul, yet powerful personality, will be dearly missed.
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Bill attended Holland Patent Central School graduating in 1954. He earned a B.S. and M.S. of Education from St. Lawrence University in 1958 and 1964 respectively. He also attended the Boston University School of Theology for one year. The early years of his career were spent teaching physical education at Dodgeville, Remsen and Potsdam Central Schools. After earning his masters, he served as guidance counselor at Potsdam Central High School and the A. A. Kingston Middle School from 1965-1992. During 1963-1974, Bill was the Potsdam Central High School’s Track and Field Coach.
Coaching track and field through faith became Bill’s passion. Although winning was not his main focus, the results were 85 straight dual meet victories, 10 consecutive league championships, and 9 sectional titles. More importantly, life-long relationships developed with a large number of athletes that enriched his life and the lives of his family members. It meant the world to him that in 1996, the men from his fourteen teams organized a track and field reunion to celebrate those success-filled years. They gathered for a second reunion in 2014. He was deeply touched that one of his athletes, Jeffrey Gardiner, wrote a book about his teams titled Winning With the Spirit. The reunion experiences, with over 100 athletes in attendance, were, in his words, overwhelming, and led him to return to coaching as a volunteer at SLU. He assisted Coach Mike Howard and created life-long relationships with collegiate track and field athletes, coaches, and officials. It was a source of great joy, when in 2016, the track at PCS was named in his honor. His dear Boys held a very special place in his heart and life. They brought blessings that sustained him right up to the end of his time with us.
Bill was involved in his church and community. He held leadership positions in the Jaycees, Potsdam United Methodist Church, American Cancer Society, Lions Club, Habitat for Humanity, and Phi Delta Kappa, an organization that promotes quality education in the public schools. Phi Delta Kappa’s Prospective Educator Award was in named in Bill’s honor.
Bill’s work with the Jaycees made an impact on High School athletics for Section X. In 1970, Bill invited Olympic athlete, Jesse Owens to the local Jaycee Sports Spectacular for both boys and girls ages 9 – 18 . Jesse Owens spoke and handed out medals to the athletes, many who qualified for the national meet. Following this sporting event, Section X school administrators recognized the quality of our male and female athletes, and Bill was given the pleasure to coach the first Section X team in any sport sent to a NYSPHAA competition. The Jaycees Sports Spectacular was one influence that eventually led to the creation of Women’s Track and Field programs at PCS and others in Section X.
As a member of the Potsdam United Methodist Church for over 50 years, Bill served as a lay leader, on the District Council of Ministries, and as a Disciple Bible Study leader. As a bible study leader he enjoyed working with students from SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson University. He found that his faith helped him live his life fully, particularly in his “challenging” senior years. He loved his church family and the fellowship he enjoyed with United Methodist friends beyond Potsdam.
When serving as co-chair for the NYS American Cancer Society with his wife, Trish, he wrote and presented a booklet on brainstorming that volunteers used across the country to raise money for cancer patients. The opportunity to serve, travel, and meet other volunteers was one of the highlights of his volunteer work.
With the help of volunteers from Habitat for Humanity and District Lions Clubs, Bill secured matching grants to have a home built for a family with a member with vision impairment. More recently, his work on the Potsdam Lions Club “Radio Days” helped raise funds to enrich the lives of those in the Potsdam community.
Bill greatly enjoyed his precious family. He cherished time and activities with all of his children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and grandnieces and grandnephews. Family skiing and camping trips were treasured, especially the annual week spent altogether in the Adirondacks. He and his dedicated wife Trish, were a match made in Heaven and a powerful team that touched and changed so many lives for the better.
Friends and relatives will gather in remembrance of Bill’s life during calling hours at the Donaldson-Seymour Funeral Home, 4 Cedar Street, Potsdam, NY on Friday, July 12 from 4-7pm and Saturday, July 13 from 2-4 and 7-9. Funeral Services will be held at the Potsdam United Methodist Church, 26 Main Street, on Sunday, July 14 at 2pm. Following the services, all are invited to celebrate Bill’s life at a reception at Sergi’s Banquet Hall, 10 Market Street, Potsdam. His burial will take place on Monday, July 15 at Bayside Cemetery, Potsdam at 10am. The Potsdam/Raquette River Lions Club will conduct a brief memorial ceremony at the time of burial.
Gifts in Bill’s memory may be made to the Potsdam United Methodist Church, 26 Main Street, Potsdam, NY 13676, the Potsdam Central School Booster Club, 29 Leroy Street, Potsdam, and the Potsdam/Raquette River Lions Club, P.O. Box 723, Potsdam.