Services Thursday for Dr. Booker T. Lewis, a Founder of Oregon’s First Black Bank
Dr. Lewis was also one of the founders and board members of Oregon's first Black bank, American State Bank (formerly Freedom Bank of Finance)
July 26, 2011Dr. Booker T. Lewis Jr. died on July 20, 2011 in Portland, Or., at the age of 88. A funeral will be held at 10 a.m., Thursday, July 28, at St. Philip the Deacon Episcopal Church, 120 NE Knott Street, with the interment to follow at Willamette National Cemetery. The viewing will be at Rose City Funeral Home on Wednesday, July 27 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Born on July 2, 1923 in Cleveland, Ohio to Booker T. Sr. and Alice E. Lewis, he spent his early years in Buffalo, N.Y., where he attended elementary and high school.
He received his B.S. degree from Fisk University and later earned his D.D.S. degree from the Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry in 1948. In that same year, he married Emma L. Rucker and from this union three children were born. Emma passed away in 1972.
Affectionately known as Booker or 'Doc' to his many friends and family, he opened his first dental practice in Detroit, Mich; however, Uncle Sam had other plans and he was called into service with the United States Army. Dr. Lewis was the Post dentist at Fort Carson in Denver, Colo., where he reached the rank of Captain prior to being honorably discharged.
In 1955, Dr. Lewis moved to Portland and established a successful practice. Indeed, he became one of the pioneers of medicine and dentistry in his newly adopted state. As one of the first Black dentists in Oregon, he served his community until his retirement in 2001.
In 1976, Dr. Lewis married Gladys Lewis and 5 stepchildren were added to the family unit. Gladys preceded him in death.
Dr. Lewis married Dorothy Spencer in 1984. As a member of St. Philip the Deacon Episcopal Parish since 1955, he served as a member of the Vestry, Senior Warden, Treasurer, and loyal member of the Usher Board.
Dr. Lewis was actively involved with numerous civic organizations, community initiatives, and clubs. He was a true trailblazer. Just to mention a few of his accomplishments, he was: the first Black member of the Portland City Club, the first Black judge for the Rose Festival court, and the first Black member of Portland's University Club.
Dr. Lewis was also one of the founders and board members of Oregon's first Black bank, American State Bank (formerly Freedom Bank of Finance). Also, he was one of the founders of the Oregon chapter Omega PSI PHI fraternity.
Left to cherish his memory are his wife Dorothy S. Lewis, sister Helen Harris, daughters Rosalind Curry (Cicero) and Patricia A. Lewis, son Fredrick M. Lewis, 5 stepchildren, 6 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren, a nephew—who is also a fellow dentist—Dr. Clyde Harris (Kim), and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and dear friends.