Lewis Samuel George Braxton Jr., of Atwater, California, died on Sunday, April 15, 2017, at his family home. He was 85.
Lewis was born on Dec. 26, 1931, in Kansas City, Missouri, to Lewis Samuel George Braxton Sr. and Ruth A. (Smith) Braxton.
In 1953, he married Freddie Mae, and together they had four children, Lewis III, Dean, Gerald and Anthony.
Lewis joined the United States Air Force in 1953 and worked as a navigator instructor and navigator instructor in bombers for most of his 20 years of service. He retired in 1972 as a major, having served in the Korean War, when black officers were rare, and the Vietnam War.
In his second career, he worked as a supervising probation officer with the County of Merced, retiring after 25 years.
Many will remember him for this third and most beloved "career" of community service. Whether as a member and officer in the Lions Club or an elected member for the Atwater Elementary School district and Merced College Board of Trustees for over two decades, he loved and lived a joyful pursuit of making the community he lived in better through edification, championing education and service. He served in many local and statewide civic, community and fraternal organizations. He was a past president of the Merced NAACP, founding president of the California Coalition of Black School Board Members, past chairman of Central Valley Regional Center, Merced Cherish, and regional chair of the Association of Community Colleges among many others.
He was recipient of resolutions from the California State Assembly in recognition of his life of service and the NAACP as Man of the Year. He did not enter a room where his infectious and warm demeanor was not remembered by any he encountered.
"Lew" as almost everyone called him, was a lifelong fan of the Kansas City Chiefs, his four sons, and the Negro Baseball Leagues (having batted 1000 when facing Satchel Paige in his youth). He will be greatly missed.
Lewis is survived by his wife, Freddie; four sons, Lewis III and Venoncia, Dean and Marilyn, Gerald and Anthony; 14 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren.
A funeral service celebrating his life will be held Saturday, April 22, at 10 a.m. at Yosemite Church, 2230 Yosemite Avenue in Merced.
A viewing is scheduled from 4 to 8 p.m. on April 21, at the Wilson Family Funeral Chapel, 1290 Winton Way in Atwater.
Burial will be Monday, April 24, at San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery, 32053 McCabe Road, Gustine, California, with full military honors beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Flowers can be sent to the Wilson Family Funeral Chapel for Friday evening or Yosemite Church for Saturday morning.
Donations can be made to Lew's favorite community club the "Atwater Winton Lions Club." Mail your check to P.O. Box 242, Atwater, CA, 95301.
Published on April 21, 2017