Born in Detroit, raised in Lansing and Grand Rapids, Lewis was a University of Michigan alum (BDes ‘48) and a veteran of the U.S. Navy (1941-1945).
Lewis began his tenure track career at the University of Michigan in 1957, serving as an Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor, and Associate Dean in what was then called the College of Architecture and Design. When the School of Art separated from the College of Architecture and Design in 1974, Lewis served as the school’s first Associate Dean from 1974-1976. Lewis retired from the University of Michigan in 1986.
A renowned painter, Lewis worked in many media including ceramics, photography, and collage. He was a co-founder of the Ann Arbor Potter’s Guild, and over the span of his career Lewis’ work was featured in more than 100 solo exhibitions, the last of which was hosted at the Stamps School of Art & Design’s former Work Gallery in 2015, entitled Fragments of the Great War 1914-1918. His work is represented in public, corporate, and private collections (including the Toledo Museum of Art and the U.S. Navy Art Gallery in Washington DC).
Lewis passed away peacefully at age 102 on June 1, 2020. He was predeceased (by 15 days) by Garland Lewis, his wife of 36 years. He is survived by two children from his marriage to Ethel Kudrna [later Potts]: Susan Burke (William) of Milwaukee and Clayton Lewis (Mary Beth) of Ann Arbor, and stepsons Al (Beth) Montalvo and Carlos (Mercedes) Montalvo and also survived by grandsons Christopher Lewis, Maxwell Lewis, and Juan Carlos Montalvo and many friends and mentees.
Banner Image: "Paintings At Pulpit: Ann Arbor Artist William A. Lewis (right), associate professor of art at the University, and the Rev. Erwin A. Gaede, pastor of the First Unitarian Church, discuss Lewis' trilogy, titled 'Notices on the Gates of Hell.'" (Via Ann Arbor District Library, published in The Ann Arbor News, April 12, 1963)