Fielding H. Lewis Jr., a retired inventor who devised improvements to lacrosse equipment and was a car enthusiast, died of heart failure Feb. 13 at his Queenstown home on the Wye River. He was 93.
Born in Baltimore and raised in the Stevenson Road area of Baltimore County, he was the son of Fielding H. Lewis, a businessman, and Alice Duncan Black, a homemaker.
Mr. Black was the grandson of then Towson-based Black & Decker co-founder S. Duncan Black.
“As a young man he would rather ride his horse than get a driver’s license but that changed with the influence of his revered [maternal] uncle, Duncan Black,” said his son, Fielding Duncan Lewis. “My father would remain a car enthusiast throughout his life. He raced, tinkered or just generally messed around with cars.”
His uncle Mr. Black raced MGs and Ferraris while his nephew, Mr. Lewis, acted as his pit man. Mr. Lewis assisted in races at tracks in Watkins Glen, New York, Cumberland and Marlboro in Southern Maryland.
Mr. Lewis went on to to own a Crosley and a series of Porsches.
“My father told the story that his Crosley was so small the box it came in doubled as its garage,” his son said.
He attended Roland Park Elementary and Gilman School and was a 1947 graduate of Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg.
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He and several friends were hired to work on a merchant vessel headed for South America from the Baltimore harbor in the late 1940s. Because he was too young, he was let go when the ship arrived in Charleston, South Carolina.
At the age of 21, he joined the Coast Guard and was stationed in Boston. On New Year’s Eve 1950, he met his future wife, Jacqueline Fraser, who was visiting from Nova Scotia, Canada.
After their marriage they lived on Burke Avenue in Towson. He became a designer at the Glenn L. Martin Co., an aerospace manufacturer, and went on to be a manager at Bendix-Frieze, the instrument plant in Towson. There he learned the skills that would help him with the design of the synthetic-material lacrosse stick.
“My father had many other interests including sailing, kayaking and road cycling but his true passion was the game of lacrosse,” said his son.
He joined STX, a division of plastics company William T. Burnett, and worked in the field of synthetic-wood lacrosse sticks at the firm’s Timonium location.
“From the early days of wooden sticks and repairing gut walls [strings] on handmade jigs [custom-made tools] in his basement to 25 years at STX Inc., he was always infatuated with the equipment and game,” his son said. “He made friendships with his lacrosse family around the world and was amazed and proud of the impact modern lacrosse sticks had on the expansion of the men’s and women’s games.”
Mr. Lewis held over a dozen patents on lacrosse heads, handles and protective gear. His son said he pioneered concepts such as open side wall heads and aluminum handles.
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“While he was proud of his accomplishments, my father gave credit to leaders in the game, players and coaches alike, who helped test and refine the tradition breaking developments that elevated the game and its expansion throughout the United States and around the world,” his son said.
Mr. Lewis also helped organize youth lacrosse in Rodgers Forge.
“His effort was to bring lacrosse to the public schools that did not have access to the sport in the early 1960s,” his son said.
Mr. Lewis and his wife moved to Queenstown on the Wye River in 1981.
He became a dog fancier and owned Vizslas. He cycled 4,000 miles a year, paddled his kayak on the Eastern Shore waterways and tinkered with his Porsches.
A private service was held Feb. 18.
Survivors include his son, F. Duncan Lewis of Towson; two daughters, Paige Lewis Dachille of Phoenix in Baltimore County and Marta Lewis Beman of Berlin in Worcester County; 10 grandchildren; and six great grandchildren. His wife of 64 years, Jacqueline Fraser Lewis, an artist and buyer at Whitehurst Christmas Imports, died in 2015.