Dr. David T. Lewis, 85, of Holiday Island, Arkansas, passed away April 21, 2021. Graveside services will be held at 1:00 PM on Saturday, May 29, 2021, at the Fort Dodge Memorial Park Cemetery with Rev. John Elkin officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the David T. Lewis Scholarship Fund at the University of Nebraska at the following website - https://nufoundation.org/fund/01101850/
A memorial service will also be held in Arkansas.
David was born September 27, 1935 in Downing, Missouri, the son of Harry R. Lewis and Emma Bohi Lewis. He grew up in Rutland, Iowa where he enjoyed hunting and fishing with his brother, playing along the river with his sisters, reading the bible and poetry with his parents, and where he worked to farm the DeGroote farm. David served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War. He was a life-long learner and teacher who used his art of storytelling, quick wit, and writing to connect with others and share his knowledge and gifts. He was a wonderful loving husband and father who will be deeply missed.
David was an educator, beginning his career as an Instructor of Agronomy at the University of Maine, then going on to be a Soil Scientist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service where he mapped the soils of Maine and Alabama. He became an instructor of Agronomy at the University of Nebraska while he completed his Ph.D. During this time he met his wife, Judy Besecker Lewis, the Lavy family, and the Richardson family who would later introduce him to Table Rock Lake where he and Judy found their cabin in Shell Knob. He and Judy were members of the Antelope Park Church of the Brethren in Lincoln, Nebraska, and enjoyed their home on a hill on 27th street and raising their daughter, Sarah.
David became a Professor at the University of Nebraska with a Ph.D. in Agronomy and was Vice Chairman for Research in the Department of Agronomy. He received many Honors and Awards in teaching and research and was active in professional organizations including the American Society of Agronomy, the Soil and Water Conservation Society of America, Nebraska Academy of Sciences, and the Nebraska Society of Professional Soil Sciences, which he helped to build with his colleagues. During his time at UNL he led the Soil Judging team, was a Graduate Faculty Fellow, and Fellow for the Center for Great Plains Studies. Lastly, he was Department Chair of Horticulture where he helped create a vision for the future for the Agronomy and Horticulture departments. David was very successful in his career, writing many grants and research publications, teaching publications, and abstracts. One of the roles he most enjoyed was that of being an educator and mentor. He taught many courses in Agronomy, University Foundations, and Great Plains Studies, the latter being a treasured connection to the Native American cultures of the Plains that he held in such high respect. He received multiple awards for teaching and for making a difference in the lives of students. He continued to stay in touch with many of his students throughout their careers and enjoyed that very much.
In his retirement, David was a living historian at the Pea Ridge Battlefield in Pea Ridge, Arkansas, teaching and telling the stories of the Civil War and the geology of the Ozarks. He was active with the Benton County Historical Society, acting as editor of the publication. He was his daughter’s substitute teacher at Washington Junior High School in Bentonville, Arkansas. He was a member of the Central United Methodist Church in Rogers, Arkansas where he enjoyed teaching Sunday School. He also enjoyed chopping wood, walking his dogs, feeding the birds, taking care of the yard, reading about history, telling stories, writing, playing Silent Night on his harmonica, and being with his wife, dogs, and family.
He is preceded in death by his beloved wife, Judy Besecker Lewis. He is survived by his children, Sarah Elaine Lewis and her husband, Kelly Tribell, as well as Daniel, Cate and Becca Goodson; siblings Martha Craft-Rosenberg, Rachel Nichelson, and Norm Michaud, and his nieces and nephews; grandchildren Isaac Lewis Tribell, Sawyer, Evan and Cameron Goodson, and step-grandchildren Emma and Hayes Tribell.
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