In a dedication ceremony held before the Feb. 13 Raiders varsity basketball game, Red Hook High School’s gymnasium was rechristened the Jack Lewis Gymnasium in honor of the former principal and long-time teacher.
Lewis, who died on Jan. 11, 2012, at the age of 80, graduated Red Hook High School in 1949, and after a stint in the U.S. Air Force, served as a sixth-grade teacher in the Red Hook Central School District for eight years and then as elementary school principal for 18 years. According to those who remember him, Lewis believed in the “whole student” approach to education, nurturing students academically, socially, emotionally and physically.
In addition to his role as an educator, Lewis was also a tennis coach, was named Red Hook’s 2008 “Citizen of the Year” and wrote a memoir of his youth called “Via Barrytown.”
And above all, he was a sports fan, as the dedication speakers made clear.
Red Hook High School Athletic Director Tom Cassata, School District Superintendent Paul Finch, and Board of Education President Kelly Mosher all delivered short speeches at the packed ceremony.
“He was full of information, full of wisdom, and I appreciate a lot of the things he taught me. He would always be there – at boys games, girls games, it didn’t matter. I’d like to read a quote from the bottom of his plaque: ‘It is truly appropriate that the gymnasium be named in his honor,’” said Cassata. “That is absolutely true.”
Finch told the crowd, “He loved his fellow community members, he loved all children – not just [Red Hook’s] children – and while he’ll be pulling for the Raiders tonight, he [would] be the first to congratulate our opponents [the Highland Huskies] on a hard-earned victory.”
“Red Hook has never had a better friend, cheerleader, supporter,” Mosher added. “If you’ve been to a Red Hook game in the past six years, his face is probably familiar to you.”
A plaque with Lewis’ image and a short biography has been placed at the entrance to the Lewis Gymnasium.