Lewis always willing to help’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Selma Times-Journal

The disabled community in Alabama says thank you to one of its biggest proponents when Larry Lewis steps down from his post as director of the West Central Alabama Easter Seal Rehabilitation Center after 40 years of service.

There will be a reception in his honor at 3 p.m. today in the fellowship hall of First Baptist Church.

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As patriarch, Lewis, 62, has certainly seen the local Easter Seals operation grow up. A native of Ramer, he came to Selma in 1970, just in time to oversee the construction and planning of the new rehabilitation center on Citizens Parkway. At the new center, Lewis, who had planned to go into business before the siren song of public service called, founded a hat-making factory called Gateway Industries. The facility was a segregated, cloistered environment where the disabled could work, earn money and learn a skill &045; sewing &045; that would be useful in the local economy.

Then NAFTA came along and changed the rules of the manufacturing industry.

Lewis found this worked out very well, and not just for disabled employees.

All the while, Lewis has worked with both Easter Seals Alabama and national rehabilitation accreditation organizations, both of which he will continue in his retirement.

His daughter, Catherine Thomas, said that’s just the way he is.

So while Lewis may not work any longer at the Citizens Parkway facility, he won’t be forgotten.