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Anne Beech Lewis

Stanford grad, tireless volunteer, tennis enthusiast

Born April 15, 1920, in Chicago to Katharine Havens Beech and Crowell Beech, Anne Beech Lewis died peacefully on January 10 at Mt. San Antonio Gardens in Claremont. She was 98 years old.

When Anne was two years old her family moved from Chicago to the San Rafael neighborhood of Pasadena, California. She attended high school at Westridge School for Girls and graduated from Stanford University in 1941 with a bachelor of arts degree in French.

At Stanford, she was captain of the women’s swimming team, the women’s ping-pong champion, and was active in the Delta Gamma sorority. She served more than 25 years in her sorority’s greater-Pasadena alumnae chapter, including two as its president.

After Stanford, she decided she wanted to marry a businessman who wouldn’t be called away during dinner parties as doctors would be, so she attended Sawyer’s Business School. Indeed at her first job, as a secretary in Caltech’s Industrial Relations Department, she met Joseph Walters Lewis, who was teaching a night class. On their first date, she asked him why he had asked out a taller girl, and he answered, “Because I don’t want short sons.” They also each shared a desire to leave the world better off than when they arrived. 

Seven months later, in 1943, they were married. Following Mr. Lewis’ US Navy service in World War II, the couple moved to San Marino, California, where they lived for 50 years.

In 1983, they were selected as co-grand marshals for the San Marino Fourth of July parade. In 1995, the San Marino Rotary Club chose them as the city’s “most distinguished couple” for their four decades of “service above self.”

Ms. Lewis’ community service began in 1942, when she served at the United Service Organization’s Hospitality House and as secretary to the director of the Red Cross at Santa Anita Park’s Japanese Internment Camp.

After her three children were born, she joined the Pasadena/San Marino Junior League, where she served many years on various committees and sang in its glee club and later in Sweet Adelines barbershop choruses.

Her service at San Marino Community Church included teaching Sunday school; in scouts as cub den mother; as a Brownie and Girl Scout leader; on the PTA board at Stoneman School; room mother at Huntington School; and as a section leader at San Marino High School.

She also enjoyed helping her husband during his time on the San Marino City Council and with promoting ballot propositions. In 1984 her state senator appointed her San Marino chairman, where she served for several years. Later she was appointed to the state central committee.

She and her husband shared a mutual interest in tennis, starting with their first date playing tennis and swimming at the Valley Hunt Club in Pasadena. She enjoyed driving her three children to tennis tournaments all over Southern California and serving on the board of governors for the Foothill Tennis Patrons Association, whose clinics included professionals Poncho Segura and Stan Smith.

“Her advice from the stands when I would be behind in a tennis match would be, ‘Take no prisoners!’ and ‘Adopt a belligerent attitude!’, her daughter Katharine recalled. “Needless to say, she loved playing the net herself.”

In 1995, the couple moved to Mt. San Antonio Gardens, a retirement community in Claremont, where they enjoyed many congenial friendships.

“She played tennis a bit after age 75, when they moved to Mt. San Antonio Gardens,” Katharine said. “They would sneak onto the Pomona College courts.” At Mt. San Antonio Gardens she especially enjoyed line dance classes and served on various committees, which included hosting prospective residents, changing weekly flower displays and making nightly announcements in the main dining room.

She was preceded in death six years earlier by her loving husband of 70 years, Joseph Walters Lewis, and her son, Joseph Walters Lewis III, of Shoreline, Washington.

She leaves her two surviving children, John Rigg Lewis of Los Alamitos, and Katharine Anne Lewis of Rancho Santa Fe, California; five grandchildren, Jonathan David Lewis of Lake Forest Park, Washington, Aaron Christopher Lewis of Kenmore, Washington, Michael James Lewis of Federal Way, Washington, Joseph William Lewis of San Francisco and Susan Lewis Roche of Aliso Viejo, California; and three great-grandchildren, James Butler Lewis and Mark Butler Lewis of Lake Forest Park, Washington, and Samantha McKenzie Lewis of Auburn, Washington.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today, Friday, January 25, at Church of Our Saviour, 535 W. Roses Rd., San Gabriel. 

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent in memory of Anne B. Lewis to the Blind Children’s Center at blindchildrenscenter.org, click on “ways to help,” or by check to 4120 Marathon St., Los Angeles, CA 90029.