Robert Lewis
Robert Lewis

Obituary of Robert P. Lewis

Diamond Point: Robert Parsons Lewis, forester, aviator, military veteran and civic leader, died Aug. 1, 2021, at his home in Diamond Point, N.Y. He was 94. Born on June 25, 1927, in Peckville, Pa., he was the son of Irving and Alice (Parsons) Lewis. In 1949, he married Barbara Jane Watkins. They had two daughters, Debra and Lugene. In 1968, in Queensbury, N.Y., he married Mary Ann “Heidi” Wurzbach Villesvik. She also had two children, John Erik and Karen. The combined family lived for many years on Ross Glen Road in Coudersport. A 1945 graduate of Blakely High School, he was a two-way starting lineman on the Blakely Bears football team, coached by the legendary John “Papa Bear” Henzes. As a teen, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as an aviation cadet in 1944, motivated by a desire to support the war effort. He continued his military career with the U.S. Coast Guard, serving as a flight engineer based in San Diego, Calif., and Elizabeth City, N.C., from 1945 to 1948. He then enrolled as a forestry student at Penn State University, where he developed an appreciation for sound forest management and related policies, under the tutelage of, among others, the respected Dr. Maurice Goddard. After working for four years at U.S. Steel in Levittown, Pa., Mr. Lewis joined the Pa. Dept. of Forest and Waters (now the Pa. DCNR/Bureau of Forestry) in 1957 with the Rothrock State Forest District in Huntingdon. Following his promotion to assistant district forester, he served briefly with the Tuscarora State Forest District before being promoted in 1965 to District Forester with Susquehannock State Forest District in Potter County. Using innovations that combined a keen knowledge of silviculture and a heavy dose of common sense, Mr. Lewis was highly respected among his peers. He took great pride in the Susquehannock State Forest being certified as one of the best-managed forests in the world. Among his proudest achievements were building a professional-level corps of forest fire wardens, and curbing the pollution of Potter County’s headwater streams by energy companies operating on state forest land. He retired in 1986. Mr. Lewis was active with the Society of American Foresters, for which he was the founder of the Northern Hardwoods Chapter; and the Pennsylvania Forestry Association. A licensed pilot, in 1980 he purchased a 1943 Stearman PT-17 biplane that had been used as a military aircraft trainer during World War II. Mr. Lewis restored the plane and flew it to many air shows. He was a generous man, often sharing of his time, his expertise and his resources to help others, but preferring anonymity. He was an active member of Rotary International and Scottish Rite Freemasons, achieving the 33rd degree. An entertaining storyteller with a good sense of humor, he was known for his practical jokes. He had a high moral code and believed strongly in perseverance and personal responsibility. He had little patience with bureaucracy. Among survivors are two daughters, Lugene (Paul) Heimel of Coudersport, Pa., and Debra (Jim) Lamantia of Friday Harbor, Wash.; a stepdaughter, Karen (Philip Williams) Villesvik of Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; six grandchildren, Justin Pucci, Zachary Pucci, Christopher Heimel, Paul Joseph Heimel, Blair Heimel, and Jahanan Williams; and six great-grandchildren. Friends may call from 2-4 pm on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021 at the Alexander Funeral Home, 3809 Main St., Warrensburg. A memorial service to celebrate his life will immediately follow the visitation at 4 pm. A private burial will be held at the family plot in Forest Hill Cemetery in Dunmore, Pa. In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may take the form of donations to Bolton EMS or High Peaks Hospice. Please visit www.alexanderfh.net for online guest book, condolences, and directions.
Saturday
11
September

Visitation

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Saturday, September 11, 2021
Alexander Funeral Home, Inc.
3809 Main St.
Warrensburg, New York, United States
518-623-2065
Visitation
Saturday
11
September

Memorial Service

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Saturday, September 11, 2021
Alexander Funeral Home, Inc
3809 Main Street
Warrensburg, New York, United States
518-623-2065
Memorial Service
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