Pleasant Point – Col. Sidney Thomas Lewis, M.D., MPH, FACPM passed away at his home in (Sipayik) Pleasant Point, Maine, Saturday, July 6th. Born in Carnegie, PA June 15, 1932, to the late Winifred (Freda) Williams Lewis and Thomas Anthony Lewis.
After graduating high school in 1950, he attended the University of Pittsburgh where he earned a degree in Microbiology. After graduation, he joined the US Air Force. His first duty assignment was as supervisor of the Aeromedicine Field Laboratory at the Holloman AFB in New Mexico. It was during this time he was assigned to work with Col. John Paul Stapp, who at the time was known as the “The Fastest Man on Earth.”
Col. Stapp placed him on the automotive crash forces task team. This team did studies on ways to reduce soldier casualties in automobile crashes. Their research led to the implementation of the 3” seatbelts used in cars today.
After this assignment, his desire was to return to the University of Pittsburgh to study medicine. With encouragement from Col. Stapp he applied and was accepted to the medical school, graduating in 1961 with a doctorate in medicine and membership in the Alpha Omega Alpha honorary medical fraternity.
After a medical internship at Lackland AFB hospital, Texas, he was assigned to the Aeromedical Indoctrination department, school of Aerospace Medicine, Brooks AFB, Texas as an instructor. From there he went on to the University of California Berkley for his masters in public health. Next, he served a residency in aerospace medicine/occupational medicine, becoming board certified in both.
In 1968, he became director of base medical services and commander of the 24th USAF dispensary, Howard AFB, Canal Zone. He instituted many improvements resulting in a more efficient operation and services provided as well as improving morale. His next assignment, medical officer aerospace medicine, directorate of aerospace safety, Norton AFB, California serving as team chief for a functional inspection of the USAF Hyperbaric Therapy program under the Director of Aerospace Safety, Brigadier General Charles (Chuck) Yeager. Sidney was sought after by a number of national organizations, universities, and service schools as a lecturer on human tolerance limits and deceleration forces and the survival aspects of aircraft accidents.
Serving on the Inspector General’s team as team chief he traveled to many locations in the US including So. America, Europe, and Asia inspecting hospitals and clinic facilities run by the Air Force. These inspections assured the Air Force that the best possible care was provided to all military personnel and their dependents.
In 1973 while he was assigned as a guest lecturer to the Physiologic Training Officers, he met his beloved wife Hilda, who was attending flight nurse school. They became friends, sharing her same interest in the arts and music and their basic philosophy in medicine. They married in 1978 while he was assigned to the Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio. His final Air Force assignment was at Hanscom AFB in Bedford, MA as clinic director of the base medical services.
During his 30 years in the Air Force, his research contributed to many advances in aerospace medicine. His outstanding leadership and devotion to duty were instrumental in the resolution of many problems of major importance to the Air Force and earned him the Meritorious Service Medal.
Sidney retired from the Air Force in 1984 and moved his family to Newry, Maine joining the private sector as medical director for Boise Cascade in Rumford. In 1985 he provided occupational medical consultation to various industrial clients including Fairchild Semiconductor, Georgia Pacific, International Paper Co., and the Passamaquoddy Tribe.
In 1987 he was recruited by UNUM Life Insurance Co. to be a second vice president and occupational medical director, relocating his family to Cape Elizabeth, ME. He continued his career at UNUM until 1998. Not one to sit on his laurels, Sidney and Hilda bought a flower shop/restaurant to continue his hobby of creative cooking and Hilda’s love of floral designs. His love and appreciation of the beauty of “Downeast” and the closeness of Hilda’s family made it a great location for retirement. He is well known in Eastport for his jovial nature and sincerity. His friends became affectionately known as the “Knights of the Round Table” the early morning coffee group. He was an avid fisherman spending many happy hours at his favorite fishing spot on lake Sysladobsis and spending time with family and dear friends at the lakes’ family compound. He loved doing challenging crossword puzzles and Sudoku.
Sidney was predeceased by his parents, sister Virginia Mathias of Andover, MA and stepson David Moses Bridges of Sipayik, ME. Sidney is survived by his wife Hilda Lewis of Sipayik, ME and sons Matthew Lewis of Bangor, ME, Mark Lewis and wife Nancy of Lafayette, CA, daughters Pamela, Linda, and Louise of California, sisters Karen Armatorio and Norma Affolder of The Villages, FL, sisters and brothers in law, step children Darel Bridges of Saco, ME and Jennifer Bridges of So. Portland, ME, several grandchildren, several nieces and nephews, and his good friends of the round table.
Memorial services will be at the Christ Church Eastport at 1 pm on Saturday, July 14th. A celebration of his life will be at his home after the memorial service, 3 Soctomah Lane, Sipayik.
Donations in his name can be made to the David Moses Bridges Scholarship fund at Maine Community Foundation, 245 Main St., Ellsworth, ME 04605 or at www.mainecf.org or Downeast Hospice Volunteer Organization at Calais Regional Hospital, 24 Hospital Lane, Calais, ME 04619. Arrangements by Mays Funeral Home, Calais & Eastport.