Services for Phil Lewis to be held Sunday, Monday
Services will be held Sunday and Monday in Palm Beach County for Phil Lewis, a former president of the Florida Senate, who died Sunday at his West Palm Beach home at the age of 82.
An insurance executive and native of Omaha, Neb., Lewis won respect from both parties for his evenhanded leadership style. He is credited with the creation of the state's five water management districts, served as a member of the state Board of Regents and a blue-ribbon state commission on education reform.
He is survived by his wife, the former Maryellen Howley, nine children and 13 grandchildren.
A viewing will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. on Sunday at Quattlebaum Funeral & Cremation Services, 1201 South Olive Ave., West Palm Beach. A funeral mass will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Juliana's Church, 4500 South Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach.
Lewis was elected to the Senate in 1970 and served as president from 1978-80. After his legislative service, he served on a multitude of state boards and commission and is a co-founder and past chairman of Florida TaxWatch.
In a statement, Florida TaxWatch said: "Phil Lewis' high ethical standards and incredible commitment to public leadership have been a consistent guiding force ... (His) deep commitment to principled public leadership and his commitment to helping our poor and most vulnerable citizens has earned him wide appreciation and deep respect."
In a 1996 profile of Lewis in The Palm Beach Post, reporter Don Horine noted that Lewis' selection as Senate president in 1978 came with the support of longtime Senate powerbroker Dempsey Barron of Panama City. Two Democratic factions were battling for power, one group led by Barron and W.D. Childers of Pensacola, and the other headed by Kenneth "Buddy" MacKay of Ocala and Harry Johnston of West Palm Beach.
Horine wrote: "Some observers predicted Lewis would prove 'too nice a guy' to be an effective Senate president. But afterward, he was generally credited with having done a good job. He drew high praise for bringing harmony to a body that previously had been torn by friction."