Funeral services celebrating the life of former Palm Coast Councilman William Alonzo Lewis, 84, was held Dec. 28 at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 5400 Belle Terre Parkway, Palm Coast. A repast preceded the interment, which followed at Flagler Palms Memorial Gardens.
Mr. Lewis was of paramount importance as a large crowd gathered at the church. Among those attending were: Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts, Vice Mayor Bill McGuire, Council members Heidi Shipley and Steve Nobile; City Manager Jim Landon, former Councilmen William Venne and Holsey Moorman; County Commission Vice Chairman Charlie Ericksen and Commissioners Barbara Revels and George Hanns; former County Commissioner Alan Petersen, former County Commissioner candidate Howard Holley, Palm Coast Fire Chief Mike Beadle, former School Board member John Fisher, countless city employees, former Flagler NAACP President Bob Williams, former Alpha Kappa Alpha Chapter President Sue Baety Fray, and others.
“I thought Bill was a great example for young people to follow, especially young men of color. I would have hoped that people knew more about him, that people were more aware of him,” said Flagler NAACP President Linda Sharpe Matthews, who attended the funeral. “I think if young people were more aware of what his role was in being a council person that he would have been re-elected, despite his not being well and not campaigning like he normally would in past elections.
“ I think he contributed a great amount to the Palm Coast community, and to art, you know, he was a lover of the arts, and I think his contributions as far as making sure that arts programs were funded by city money and helping to obtain grants, I think that was of tremendous impact too,” said Mrs. Matthews.
Cultural arts advocate
“He was an advocate for cultural arts – particularly for the AACS – during those years when we were literally fighting for grants, he would certainly speak on our behalf and on behalf of all the organizations that were trying to put cultural arts to the forefront in our community of Palm Coast,” said Commissioner William Seeney of the Flagler Housing Authority and Budget and Finance Chairman of the African American Cultural Society (AACS). Mr. Seeney was among those attending the funeral.
“I think he was really a strong proponent, a supporter of our organization in that regard. He was the one that would say, ‘We ought to increase the budget for cultural arts.’ I can remember those debates with other council people, who were not necessarily in favor of that,” reiterates Seeney.
“The other thing, you know, Bill was calm and would think out the issues in a very rational way, in a very practical way, in that he never let things get too convoluted or confusing. He pretty much talked – you might say – straight talk in terms of really putting the real issue out there, trying not to solidify everything, but treat the issues as one that is in the best interest of the people in the community, and that’s what I liked about Bill. He was very supportive, as you well know, in our (AACS) anniversaries – the 15th and the 20th,” said Seeney.
“…He and I both were trying to gain appointments to the Board of Education a few years ago.
Unfortunately, we both lost out to a fellow that’s not even in the area anymore. So we know that was fairly political in nature, if you will. That was my relationship with Bill. He encouraged those of us who were a little active in the community, to become more active – particularly in the political arena… I think his biggest disappointment is that we didn’t support coming to the council meetings… He felt that we needed to have a stronger presence… It would help him to advocate the things that had been identified as needs,” said Seeney.
Longtime community leader
Mr. Lewis, a resident of Palm Coast since 1999 and coming from White Plains N.Y., passed away Dec. 20 in Florida Hospital Flagler. He was born June 18, 1931, in St. Augustine, a son of the late James and Minnie Beauford Lewis.
Former Council member Lewis, a retired manager in the fields of finance and education, was selected to serve on the Palm Coast City Council in November 2008, representing District 4. Mr. Lewis had long been active in the community and local government.
He was a member of the Palm Coast Planning and Land Development Regulation Board for eight years and served on the Planning and Ordinance Committee from 2000-2002. His leadership experience included being chairman of the board of directors of the Advanced Technology Center in Daytona Beach, the leadership council board of the Daytona Beach Halifax Chamber of Commerce, and the advisory committee of the University of Florida Marine Extension Program.
He was included in “Who’s Who” in Finance and Industry, a member of Kappa Alpha Phi Fraternity, and served on the Flagler County Futures Committee for the 2010 Flagler County Comprehensive Plan changes. He also was a member of the AACS and the NAACP.
In 2010, he was given the Coretta Scott King Human Rights Award from the Chi Delta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the Ivy Community Foundation.
Mr. Lewis received a Bachelor of Science degree from Shaw University and a master’s in Public Administration from Pace University in New York and was a veteran serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict. He spent most of his professional career working in New York, having worked in medical research; for the U.S. Treasury in the Savings Bond Division, as a private pension Investment manager, and finally as the complaint officer for the New York City Board of Education.
He is survived by his son, Bartlett Lewis; his daughter, Pavalon Lee; a nephew, Craig Lewis; and a niece, Wanda Lewis. The family suggests contributions be made to the Endowment Fund of St. Thomas Episcopal Church of Palm Coast.
As always, remember our prayers for the sick, afflicted and bereaved.
Birthday wishes to Charlotte Prince, Vivian Rowe, Dec. 31; the Rev. Annette Weaver, Jan. 1; Doris Vaughan Sheppard, James Major, Jan. 6.