We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Davis-Watkins - DeFuniak Springs
James Howard Lewis, Jr., age 77, passed away June 5, 2022, at his home in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. He was born June 5, 1945, in Portsmouth, Ohio to the late James Howard Lewis, Sr. and Alice Mary Denver Lewis. Jim was married for 56 years to the love of his life, Diane Bryzelak; together from the moment they met in December 1964. They married twice – once November 6, 1965, at the courthouse in Folkston, Georgia, and again November 12, 1966, at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Daytona, Beach Florida. He was retired from twenty years of service in the United States Air Force and had been an active and dedicated volunteer firefighter for 56 plus years, serving communities in Apple Valley, California, and in and around Crestview and DeFuniak Springs, Florida. In addition, before, during, and after service in the United States Air Force, Jim was an able and willing volunteer having served as a Boy Scout Master; Guardian Ad Litem; Foster Parent; EMT; and Search and Rescue Deputy in Mountain, Desert, and Cave Victim rescue and recoveries in Nevada. A Black Belt Instructor in TaeKwonDo as well, he taught the Tiny Tigers of Crestview. Jim served as a paid county deputy in both Okaloosa and Walton Counties, Florida, after having been a volunteer Reserve Deputy for several years. He donated Christmas toys, food and materials to local shelters and food pantries and stranded or burned-out families. A true Renaissance man, Jim could build or fix almost anything, although plumbing was his nemesis. He had an exceptional talent at developing any business venture into a money-maker as well as a community service. His many professional and entrepreneurial ventures began when he was eight years of age and continued through his life: pulling his “little red wagon”, he began by selling jars of peanuts, strawberries, nightcrawler worms and color-with-water paintings in Loveland, Ohio. In the following decades, he planted gardens in the California desert; worked at gas stations; fixed cars; ran a hay farm; developed a tool sales and repair business; bought, fixed and rented out mobile homes; operated a debris removal and roll-off dumpster business; and owned and rented out residential and commercial properties. He was involved in real estate ventures where he never lost money on his dealings, only once “breaking even.” He built and sold redwood patio furniture; boarded horses; and worked at a dairy farm for free during a USAF TDY tour in Phoenix, Arizona, so that he could learn to raise his own cattle. He logged trees in southern California, selling logs for travel money to show off his newborn son to family. He sold his blood for gas money to visit his forever-gal. At age seventeen, he was the youngest professional house painter in Florida. At age 75, he was the oldest active volunteer firefighter in the DeFuniak Springs, Florida area. Although Jim failed to graduate high school and had to later earn a GED, he went to college in his forties to earn his Fire Science Degree. As a college student, for his drama course, he became the seamstress to alter the costumes for his fellow students. Jim had more hobbies than most men have dreams. He collected and enjoyed operating his Lionel trains, collected and rebuilt antique oil lamps, oil lanterns, chandeliers, and electric lamps. His crackleglass collection was a museum in itself. Jim had a vinyl record and CD music collection to envy almost anyone. Jim biked and motorcycled, boated and fished, and enjoyed planting trees and landscaping. In his youth, he raced dirt-track cars and was a superb photographer and a master horseman. Some will remember Jim as dressed up as Santa Claus at parties, but Jim was also the real deal as a guardian angel to his community. He was loved and will be missed by thousands. Rest in peace, dear one.
He is preceded in death by his parents; brother, Mark Edward Lewis; and sister-in-law, Tomako Lewis.
Jim is survived by his loving wife, Diane Lewis; children, James Howard Lewis III (Cynthia), and Janel Ariana Lewis Humphrey; grandchildren, Megan Ashley Lewis Ceska (Robert), James Howard Wesley Lewis IV, Ayla Elizabeth Humphrey, Ashley Dior Humphrey (Harold), and Jamilynn Dawn Lewis; great-grandchildren, Annabelle Christine Ceska, Allison Nicole Ceska, and Adalynn James Sickle; siblings, Denver Otha Lewis, Lawrence Arthur Lewis (Brenda), John Scott Lewis (Patti), Mary Ellen Lewis Cooper Dettmer (Howard), Stephen Matthew Lewis, and Thomas Patrick Lewis; and sister-in-law, Kathy Lewis.
A time of visitation will be held from 9:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., Saturday, July 9, 2022, in the chapel of Davis-Watkins Funeral Home, 1474 State Highway 83 North, DeFuniak Springs, Florida 32433. Funeral services will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the chapel with Reverend Roy Marien officiating. Military honors will be provided by the United States Air Force.
Arrangements and services are under the direction of Davis-Watkins Funeral Home of DeFuniak Springs.