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Elkridge: Car dealer Bob Lewis left a legacy in our community

BusinessU.S. Army

Those of us who have lived in Elkridge for most of our lives can clearly recall some of the businesses that made Elkridge such a great place to grow up, mainly because they were started and run by the folks that lived right in our own back yards.

Some of the local businesses that come to mind were Commercial Tire, Miller Chevrolet, Pearls (now Daniels), Davis & Hemphill and Lewis Motor Co.

Robert "Bob" J. Lewis Sr., of Lewis Motors, was one such local businessman.

Bob recently passed away at the age of 74, but not without leaving a legacy that all should strive to achieve. Throughout his life, Bob blessed countless lives with his generosity, kind spirit, selfless love and unfailing sense of humor.

Born May 1, 1938, to Helen (nee Cooper) and Henry John Lewis, he is the brother of Mike and Margaret, and the late Henry, Roger, Victor, Pat and Sonny.

Bob married Mary Joan (nee Gowl) in 1958 and they had three children — Bobby Jr., Debbie and Michael. Although their marriage ended in divorce, the two remained friends.

In 1982, Bob remarried; his second wife, Gloria Jean (nee Pierce), had a daughter, Janelle. Bob and Gloria moved to Virginia in 1984; to Florida in 2007; and back to Maryland in 2012, before his passing on July 25.

Bob was a mechanic in the U.S. Army (1956-1958), which most likely influenced his career as an automobile dealer — since 1959, licensed and with business locations in both Maryland and Virginia.

I bought my first car, a 1969 Chevelle, from Lewis Motors in 1977. Bob loved Chevelles, restoring over ten 1962-1972 models. He was a collector of cars, owning 10,000-plus vehicles over the course of his lifetime, including real "trophies" such as a 1935 Chevy, Willy's Jeep, 1970 Firebird, 1972 Olds, 1971 and 1987 Volkswagen convertibles, 1964 GTO, 1964-70 Chevy Novas, and a 1965 Barracuda.

In addition, he owned 16-plus motorcycles. And, he was a collector of animals that were just as much a part of his life as any people.

But it was his children and grandchildren that were his greatest passion. Bob taught his sons, Bobby and Michael, the car business, and has passed his dealerships onto them and his grandsons.

And, more than just the business side of the auto industry, he taught, by example, the most critical components of success — integrity, goodwill, generosity and compassion.

Countless times, Bob reached out and helped someone down on their luck — a neighbor, a friend, a complete stranger — whether he provided a job, a vehicle, a loan, or whatever, it was a hand up to someone in need

As much as Bob was a businessman, he loved his downtime, too, especially when it involved family. He loved to play cards, especially Pitch, and his other passions included fishing, crabbing, boating and horse racing.

He was the quintessential funny man; it was virtually impossible to avoid his practical jokes if you were anywhere near him at a party or family celebration.

Bob is survived by his wife, Gloria; his first wife, Mary; Bobby, Debbie, Michael, and Janelle; and 10 grandchildren, Lindsey, Ben, Jeremiah, Igor, Natasha, Mary, Ahren, Ali, Kevin and Taylor).

His legacy lives on in the business ventures that Bob and Gloria grew, and continue to thrive under the leadership of his sons. In Bob's spirit of entrepreneurship, daughter Debbie, along with her mom, created the Hair Station and, although Mary is retired, Debbie still runs the shop at its original location on the corner of Washington Boulevard and Brumbaugh Avenue. The legacy continues. Thanks, Bob.

The Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department's annual shrimp and bull roast is only a week away!

Held on Saturday, Sept. 8, 6-10 p.m., at the fire hall, 6275 Old Washington Road, this fundraising event is hosted by the dedicated Ladies Auxiliary.

Tickets are $40 and the menu features pit beef, ham and turkey; shrimp; oyster fritters; salads and sides; beer, set-ups, and sodas. Enjoy live music, the ever-popular Big 6 game wheel and plenty of door prizes.

For tickets or other information, contact Tami Scovitch at 410-456-5896 or at frefroggie@verizon.net.

The third annual Give Where You Live 5K Family Fun Run, a benefit on behalf of the Elkridge Food Pantry and Garden, will be held Sunday, Sept. 16, at 8 a.m., at 5660 Furnace Ave.

The course is flat, paved and free of traffic. Baby strollers and wheelchairs welcome. No bikes, roller blades, skateboards, scooters or motorized vehicles allowed.

There is also an optional 2-mile walk, and the fundraiser will take place rain or shine. One hundred percent of the proceeds directly benefit the food pantry. Sign up online today at http://www.summersend5k.org.

A bad day on the golf course beats any day at work, so grab your clubs and pull together a fun foursome for the Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department's fourth annual Golf Tournament on Monday, Oct. 1, at Compass Pointe Golf Course, 9010 Fort Smallwood Road in Pasadena.

Registration and breakfast will be from 7 to 8 a.m. It's a shotgun start (4 person captain's choice best ball); $100 per person or $400 per team includes greens fee, cart rental, continental breakfast, lunch banquet, unlimited on-course refreshments and a pre-tournament gift bag.

Soft spikes required; no jeans; no professional golfers. For more information on registration, sponsorships, donating door prizes, or volunteering, contact Chair Tami Scovitch at frefroggie@verizon.net or 410-456-5896, or on the EVFD voice mail system at 410-761-6633 ext. 8.

That's all for this week, but keep those emails coming and let me know what's going on in your back yard!

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