By Barnett Wright
The Birmingham Times
Mrs. Helen M. Lewis, former vice president and chief financial officer of The Birmingham Times, and wife of Dr. Jesse J. Lewis Sr., the newspaper’s founder, passed away on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. She was 96.
“I never heard her say a derogatory remark about anybody,” Dr. Lewis said. “She’d always say, ‘If they knew better they would have done better.’ Those were her favorite words. Her livelihood was her children and her grandchildren and her church — and I came third. I was last on the list. It has always been like that.”
Mr. and Mrs. Lewis were married for 62 years.
Mrs. Lewis was truly blessed. She was born on March 4, 1920, to Sarah Bolden Merriweather and Robert Merriweather in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and was the couple’s eldest and last surviving child. Mrs. Lewis had five siblings: Fanny Alston, Robert Merriweather Jr., Julia Howard, Sarah Crawley and Thomas Merriweather.
Mrs. Lewis attended high school in Tuscaloosa and received her formal education at Alabama A&M University, where she excelled in her studies. For many years, she was a member of 16th Street Baptist Church, where she was a part of the civil rights movement. In her later years, she accepted Christ as her savior with First Congregational Christian Church, where she served as a faithful member who truly loved the Lord.
In her leisure time, Mrs. Lewis enjoyed spending time with family and traveling with her son James E. Lewis Sr. She was dedicated to uplifting her community and served as president of the Smithfield Neighborhood Association, Jack and Jill, Angola Guild, The Links Incorporated, and Les Jumes Dames Club. She also enjoyed helping others and spending time with her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren.
“We always said grandmother was as sweet as honey. Her favorite line was ‘I love you more’ and she meant it,” said granddaughter Jamesha Lewis.
Mrs. Lewis was preceded in death by her sons, Jesse J. Lewis Jr. and James E. Lewis Sr. She leaves to cherish her memory her husband of 62 years Dr. Jesse J. Lewis Sr.; three grandchildren: Dana Candace Lewis-Kendrick, James E. Lewis Jr. (Brendia), and Jamesha L. Lewis; 10 great grandchildren; and two great-great grandchildren. She was very close to her nieces and nephews, and had a host of loving relatives and friends.
Funeral services will be held Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, at 11 a.m. at First Congregational Christian Church, 1024 Center St. N, Birmingham, AL 35204.