ROBERT L. LEWIS (25 September 1919 - 3 August 2005) was a lawyer and education activist.

Lewis was born in New York City and was a vaudeville performer during his youth. He and his older brother were billed as “The Sunrise Happiness Kids.” At age 16, he entered Hamilton College.

During World War II, Lewis served as a spy in the OSS, working behind enemy lines in Sicily to establish an intelligence link to the Allied Command ahead of their July 1943 invasion of Italy. He was also part of the United States infantry at Salerno during the siege of Anzio. Lewis’s wartime service earned him the Legion of Merit award and a Purple Heart.

After the war, Lewis enrolled in the WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY School of Law, from which he earned his juris doctorate. He joined the law firm Ulmer, Berne, Laronge, Glickman and Curtis and 1948 and retired as a managing partner in 1995.

In 1962, Lewis was appointed the president of a citizen’s committee seeking to establish a community college in Cleveland. He would go on to serve as a board chairman and trustee of the subsequent CUYAHOGA COMMUNITY COLLEGE, which opened in September 1963. At Cuyahoga Community College, he taught courses such as Greek Mythology and Drama.

Lewis also taught contract and corporate law at the CLEVELAND-MARSHALL LAW SCHOOL and was a professor at Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations. He was the director of the Mandel Center’s Trusteeship Initiative and the author of the book Effective Nonprofit Management: Essential Lessons for Executive Directors.

Other organizations that Lewis was involved in included The Hebrew Free Loan Association, the Jewish Family Service Association, the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland, and The Ratner School. He additionally served as president of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, the Program for Action by Citizens in Education, and the Fairmount Center for the Creative and Performing Arts.

Lewis was married to Joanne Waxman for 42 years. The couple had five children and nine grandchildren. He died at the age of 85.

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