Donald Lewis was from the old school of law enforcement, those who knew him said, when being tough was a job requirement. But for the past five years, he had left his hard shell behind and taken a more subdued job at the Augusta Richmond County Detention Center's Phinizy Road facility.
"He was real hard-core because he was a cop before they had radios and could call for help," said Capt. Chester Huffman, the assistant chief jailer at the Phinizy Road site. "He was a lot more mellow in recent years. He was just really a nice guy and well-liked by his peers and the inmate population for the most part."
Sgt. Lewis, 62, died Friday at his residence. Graveside services were at 4 p.m. Sunday at Sunset Memory Gardens, Graniteville, S.C.
His law enforcement career began with the Augusta City Police, where he worked his way up to the post of uniformed police officer. He served as a detective for the Augusta Police Department for several years, Capt. Huffman said.
In recent years, Sgt. Lewis' battle with cancer had forced him to take some time off from work. But his illness didn't keep him out for long.
"He would have an operation and as soon as the doctor said he was OK to come back to work, he'd come straight back," Capt. Huffman said. "He was on oxygen at one time and even that couldn't keep him down. He would hook it up to a 200-foot-long tube and walk around the pod if he had to."
On a personal level, Sgt. Lewis loved children, enjoyed coin collecting and had a soft spot for "any type of flowers," his niece Angie Banford said. He also enjoyed making other people happy, she said.
"Even with his illness, he never let on how much he was hurting," Mrs. Banford said. "He always tried to make you feel better."
Other survivors include his mother, Pauline L. Lewis, Augusta; and a son, Steven Lewis, Augusta.
Reach Jennifer Hilliard at (706) 823-3220 or firstname.lastname@example.org.