Andy Lewis, 64, a Haverford Township commissioner for the Fifth Ward and former Delaware County councilperson, has died following a battle with a Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a neurodegenerative disorder, according to an announcement on his social media account Saturday.
Lewis, a Republican with a long career in business and local politics, was diagnosed with the disease late last month and treated at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania after displaying “stroke-like symptoms,” Mario Oliva, Haverford Township commissioner for the Second Ward, wrote in a statement on Lewis’ social media page this past week.
In an email to The Inquirer, Gerry Hart, president of the Haverford Board of Commissioners, confirmed that Lewis died at Penn on Saturday, surrounded by family.
“Mr. Lewis was a man of high integrity who in addition to his many years of service on our Township Board also served Delaware County as a commissioner earlier in his career,” Hart said in a statement. “Mr. Lewis was known for his passionate commitment to his Fifth Ward constituents’ concerns as well as his work to ensure a strong future for all of Haverford Township. It has been an honor for me to work with and get to know Andy these past three years.”
Thomas McGarrigle, head of the Delaware County GOP, called Lewis “a man of great principle” who “truly cared for Haverford Township.”
“It never wavered,” he said in an interview Sunday. “If he believed in something, you were never going to change his mind.”
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is a “rapidly progressive and always fatal” illness, resulting in a patient’s death usually within a year after symptoms begin to show, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disorder is rare, impacting “one person per million population each year,” and is “believed to be caused by an abnormal isoform of a cellular glycoprotein known as the prion protein.”
Lewis graduated from Souderton Area High School in Montgomery County, and attended Lafayette College and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, according to his biography on Haverford Township’s website. He was elected a Skippack township supervisor in 1986, and moved to Haverford Township about a decade later.
Lewis was elected Fifth Ward commissioner in 2003, and later served as a Delaware County councilperson. He returned to his post as Fifth Ward commissioner in 2016 following a landslide victory against incumbent Jeff Heilmann.
“Andy was a good man, beloved by his constituents and fellow public officials,” Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, who is a Havertown resident, said in a statement. “My thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this most difficult time.”
Lewis wasn’t the first in his family to take on a role in public service. His father, Drew Lewis, who died of complications from pneumonia in 2016, was a former U.S. transportation secretary under President Ronald Reagan. His mother, Marilyn Lewis, was a former state representative. She died in December of an intestinal ailment.
“He often talked about his father’s favorite job he ever had in politics is when his father served for Ronald Reagan,” McGarrigle said.
Lewis headed the Haverford Board of Commissioners when, in 2019, a local fire company refused to part with a volunteer who admitted he tried to join the Proud Boys, an extremist group.
Information on a memorial service was not yet available but was to be shared on Lewis’ social media account at a later time, according to Saturday’s post announcing his death.