Fairfield’s Crosby Lewis dies at 89

Ernest “Crosby” Lewis, a native son, attorney and statesman of South Carolina, passed peacefully and surrounded by family on Tuesday, May 9 2023.

Crosby was born in Fairfield County in 1934 in his family’s log cabin, to his parents Nell and Ernest Van “Brick” Lewis. Later in his youth, the family moved to Newberry and then to Columbia as his father pursued a career as a statewide and national leader with the Electric Cooperatives. From his days as a Boy Scout in Newberry, where he proudly achieved Eagle Scout, to his days as quarterback under Lynn Kalmbach’s Dreher High School football team, the friends he created as a young man were friendships for life, a testament to his steadfast loyalty, which defined him.

Crosby later attended the University of South Carolina on a football scholarship and was coached by Rex Enright. After an injury, Coach Enright encouraged Crosby to attend law school at the University, where he graduated in 1958.

He and his dear friend Robert “Bobby” Kneece formed a law partnership shortly after their bar admission. Crosby went on to found several law firms but practicing alongside his brother Dan Lewis was the time he enjoyed the most. Crosby was considered an exceptional attorney among his peers and fierce competitor in the courtroom.

While practicing law, Crosby also pursued a diligent life of public service as a member of the SC General Assembly’s House of Representatives, first representing Richland County (1960-1964) and later Fairfield County (1983-1989). During those years, he served as vice-chairman, chairman and trustee of the SC State Board of Education, a trustee of Columbia College, trustee of MUSC, and on the board of visitors for the Citadel. He also served as the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party during Gov. Robert McNair’s term, among other positions of service. However, one of his proudest moments of service was his contribution to the passage of the Education Improvement Act, a hallmark of Gov. Richard Riley’s term. He was later awarded the Order of the Palmetto by Gov. James Hodges and proudly served on the SC Governor’s Mansion Committee during Gov. Hodges’ term. He also served as a Captain in the United States Army.

In 1970, Crosby returned to Fairfield County after the purchase of a historic property, later named “Fairfield,” where he lived for nearly 50 years. Crosby was at his happiest at the 18th century property, working in the gardens, hunting turkeys, and researching the deep history of Fairfield County, which will forever be his home.

Crosby is survived by his loving and devoted wife of over 50 years, Cleo, his brother Joe, and his four children Lisa, Allyson (Tony), Ernest Crosby “Brick” Jr. (Edith), and Gage (Courtney). He is also survived by his beloved grandchildren, Drew Taylor, Grace Meyer, Catherine Meyer, Katie Geer (Lyles), Ernest “Crosby” Lewis III, Wells Lewis, Pearson Lewis, Nell Lewis, and his many cousins, nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his parents, Nell Brooks and Ernest Van Lewis, and his four siblings Judith, Sally Kohler (Bill), Dan and Wally.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. A visitation will be held on Friday, May 12th from 4-6pm at Dunbar Funeral Home on Devine Street in Columbia, SC. A funeral service will be held at noon on Saturday, May 13th at First United Methodist Church, 109 W College Street, Winnsboro, SC.

Speak Your Mind