Olen Hales Lewis Jr., 81, son of the late Olen H. Lewis Sr. and Willie Major Lewis of Richmond, died in Norfolk on Feb. 1, 2019, following a short illness. At the time of his death, Olen was living in Williamsburg and formerly lived in Gloucester for many years.
A native of Richmond, Olen attended John Marshall High School and graduated from the University of Richmond with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in history and mathematics; he also received a master’s degree in humanities from the University of Richmond.
While growing up in Richmond, he sang in the All Saints Episcopal Church Boys Choir and was active in theater groups. He continued this love of theater and while at the university performed at the renowned Barksdale Theater in Hanover County. During this same time, he also worked in the Archives Division of the Virginia State Library (now the Library of Virginia).
After graduation Olen taught in the Mathews County School System (1961-1962), and for the following 29 years in the Gloucester County School System (1962-1991). He taught history, government and humanities and also coached the Gloucester High School’s first soccer team and started the chess club. From the mid-1980s until 1995 he was an adjunct professor at Rappahannock Community College. He frequently commented that he was the happiest when he was teaching.
He was chairman of the Gloucester County Republican Committee for eight years in the 1970s, and in 1979 was appointed by then-Governor John Dalton to a four-year term as the first ever public member to any state regulatory agency. He served on the Virginia Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers from 1979 to 1984.
Olen was elected to serve as an Elector (State of Virginia) to the Electoral College to cast a vote for the President of the United States in 1980. Also, in Gloucester County he served as director of the Head Start Summer Program; started a children’s theater group; was a member of the Lions Club and for many years Olen served as director and producer of the Lions Club Bi-Annual Variety Show, where he was known as “Olie the Clown.”
A member of Abingdon Episcopal Church, he was active in the men’s club. In his post teacher retirement years, he worked for Colonial Williamsburg and portrayed Mr. Chowning at Chowning’s Tavern in the historic area.
His major interests included theater, music, history, politics, genealogy and the outdoors—camping, fishing, canoeing, sailing. Olen was an avid reader and loved animals.
He is survived by his daughter, Robin Elizabeth Lewis of Chantilly.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at Abingdon Episcopal Church, 4625 George Washington Memorial Highway, Gloucester.
In memory of Olen, contributions can be made to the Gloucester-Mathews Humane Society, P.O. Box 385, Gloucester, Va. 23061.
Arrangements are under the direction of Hogg Funeral Home, Gloucester Point. Please visit www.hoggfh.com to share condolences and memories.