Marilyn Stoughton Lewis, 89, of Lansdale, a former Pennsylvania state representative and the wife of Andrew “Drew” L. Lewis Jr., died Monday, Dec. 7, of an intestinal ailment at Abington-Lansdale Hospital.
The Lewis family has had a presence in Republican politics at the local and national level for many years. From 1979 to 1982, Mrs. Lewis was a member of the Pennsylvania House representing the 147th District in central and upper Montgomery County.
She was a longtime Republican committeewoman and supported her husband’s bid for governor of Pennsylvania in 1974 against victor Milton Shapp. She was known for being a tireless campaigner with a “Hi, I’m Marilyn Lewis” button the size of a coffee cup saucer pinned to her lapel.
She served as an alternate delegate to the 1976 Republican National Convention and campaigned for presidential candidate Ronald Reagan in 1980.
Her husband was U.S. secretary of transportation during the first two years of the Reagan administration. When Reagan decided to fire striking U.S. air traffic controllers in 1981, Drew Lewis was the one who made the announcement.
He died in 2016 at age 84.
The couple’s son, Andrew “Andy” Lewis IV, is a past and present commissioner in Haverford Township and a former Delaware County councilman.
Mrs. Lewis lived for many years in Lower Salford Township before moving to Lansdale 15 years ago.
“She was the consummate lady,” said fellow Republican and neighbor Bruce L. Castor Jr. “A person who kept quiet, listened carefully, and rarely spoke. But when she did speak, people listened very carefully. A fine urbane lady.”
Born in Philadelphia, she was the daughter of Russell S. and Bernice Bernard Stoughton. She graduated in 1949 from Norristown High School and later took classes at both Harcum Junior College and the University of Miami.
She and her husband met in high school and eloped in 1950. Both were 18.
“Drew and I have had a great life together,” she told UPI in a 1974 interview. “We were married in college and have gone through all the periods together, when he was going to school, getting his start in business. We’re basically well-adjusted people.”
She served on corporate boards including Continental Bancorp and Midlantic Corp., a bank founded in 1986.
Mrs. Lewis volunteered as a board member for the Philadelphia Zoo, Philadelphia Orchestra Association, and the Wolf Trap Foundation, a northern Virginia nonprofit that brings performances to diverse audiences. She was also on the board of Grand View Hospital in Sellersville and Ursinus College, her family said.
A strong component of her life was faith. She supported the Central Schwenkfelder Church in Worcester for more than 60 years, serving as a trustee and volunteer.
Her generosity was well known to many different institutions, causes, and individuals. “She never worried about getting credit,” her son Andy said. “She would drive around at night before many Christmases, dropping off gifts and money anonymously on the front porches of those in need.”
She was an avid gardener, cook, baker, and caretaker for animals of all types. Her zest for adventure caused her to bungee jump off the tallest building in Auckland, New Zealand, and she skydived when challenged by one of her grandchildren, the family said. She loved to fly and once was a licensed private airplane pilot.
“Despite an early bout with cancer and a battle with Parkinson’s the last 15 years of her life, my mother was an inspiration to all that knew her,” her son said. “She took each setback along the way as a challenge to overcome, never complaining, and with a fighting and positive attitude.
“She was always more worried about how other people were doing than about herself. Her faith in God and her love for her family and friends brought her the hope she needed to persevere through the tough times.”
Besides her son, Andy, she is survived by a son, Rusty Lewis; 14 grandchildren; and 19 great-grandchildren. An infant son, Andrew L. Lewis III; a daughter, Karen Carrier; and a brother and sister died earlier.
Graveside services at the Garden of Memories at Central Schwenkfelder Church in Worcester, will be private.
Memorial donations may be made to the Brandywine Valley SPCA, 1212 Phoenixville Pike, West Chester, Pa. 19380.