MADISON - Philip Howard "Phil" Lewis Jr., age 91, passed away on Sunday night, July 2, 2017, surrounded by his loving family. He was born on Sept. 4, 1925, in Robinson, Ill. (20 miles from his hometown of Lawrenceville, Ill.), and was the son of Philip Howard Lewis Sr. (1890-1971), and Florence Sutfin Lewis (1900-1998). He was united in marriage to Elizabeth Alice Thompson (1932-2012) in Ridgewood, N.J., in 1953.
Phil is survived by his sister, Gretchen Patrick; children, Philip Lewis III; Andrew (Pam) Lewis; Lisa (Mark Kosikowski) Lewis; grandchildren, Cody Pine; Briana Lewis (Brian) Allen; Shawn Lewis; Austin Lewis; great-granddaughter, Tessa Verne Allen; brother-in-law, St. Clair (Monika) Thompson; nieces, Caroline Thompson, Susan (Ed) Loper, Beth Patrick (Bryan) Stockinger, Sarah Patrick; and nephews, Mike (Sholeh) Patrick, Brian (Celia) Patrick, and Charlie Thompson.
Lewis graduated from Lawrenceville Township, Ill., High School in 1943. He enlisted in the Air Corps upon graduation and completed the training program at Hondo Air Base in Hondo, Texas, where he received navigation training. He concluded his service with the Air Corps in 1946. He attended the University of Illinois on the G.I. bill, receiving a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture in 1950. Lewis then completed a summer internship with the National Park Service in 1952, where he learned about governmental agency interdisciplinary efforts to maintain the landscapes under their jurisdiction. His thesis focused on the Everglades Inventory and Development Study.
On June 13, 1953, Lewis married Elizabeth Alice Thompson, a botany student at Radcliffe College. They were married for 58 years until her death on Feb. 1, 2012.
Lewis was awarded a Charles Eliot Traveling Fellowship in Landscape Architecture for his work on the Everglades. The fellowship allowed Lewis and his new wife to travel to Europe for a year-long honeymoon and period of discovery. They viewed the landscapes of England, Scotland, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. These experiences sparked Lewis's interest in museums, communicating with the public, and the creation of spaces for buying local products.
After returning from Europe, Lewis worked for the University of Illinois Bureau of Community Planning from 1953 to 1963. Lewis was the director of the Recreation and Open Space Study of Illinois from 1958 to 1961. Here he identified environmental corridors and landscape personalities that were used to guide planning efforts. He was recruited by Wisconsin Governor Gaylord Nelson to serve as the Director of the State of Wisconsin Recreation Resource, Research and Design, Department of Resource Development, where he served from 1963 to 1965. Environmental corridors were again identified in the Wisconsin State Recreation Plan to help guide planning decisions and public land purchases in the state.
Lewis became the founder and director of the Environmental Awareness Center (EAC), part of the School of Natural Resources and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He had joint appointments with the Department of Landscape Architecture, Department of Urban & Regional Planning, and the University of Wisconsin-Extension. Lewis also served as chair of the UW Landscape Architecture Department from 1964 to 1972 and taught undergraduate and graduate design courses. Shortly before his retirement in 1995 he served as the Jens Jensen Professor of Landscape Architecture. Lewis was also a visiting professor in the School of Design at Harvard University from 1976 to 1977.
Lewis contributed to the origins of geographic information systems technology with his concept of using transparent overlays of mapped resource qualities for environmental planning. The Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) presented Lewis with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. Lewis, along with Ian McHarg and Angus Hills, are credited with the development of the natural resource inventory approach and map overlays as a crucial part of the regional design process. His work and concepts are outlined in his book; Tomorrow by Design, A Regional Design Process for Sustainability written in 1996. Lewis celebrated his retirement from the University of Wisconsin at a banquet on April 22, 1995.
On Sept. 12, 2013, the Dane County, Wisconsin Board of Supervisors dedicated a Madison Environmental Corridor System to Phil and Elizabeth Lewis, now known as the Lewis Nine Springs E-Way. The title recognizes the work of Phil and his wife, Elizabeth (Libby), who served for 26 years on the Dane County Parks Commission.
The Lewis family helped establish the Friends of Dane County Parks Endowment (FDCPE), managed by the Madison Community Foundation. The fund supports activities involving education, interpretation and volunteerism within parks and the promotion of the E-Way concept. The family heartily encourages friends and family to make a donation to the FDCPE in memory of Phil Lewis.
Phil had a long, productive and internationally impactful career that was recognized by many organizations over the years. Phil would want this obituary, and the obituary of others to be a constant reminder of the impact that our dedicated public servants and the University have on the world. Primary among his many recognitions was: The American Society of Landscape Architects Medal, The ASLA Medal is the highest honor the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) may bestow upon a landscape architect whose lifetime achievements and contributions to the profession have had a unique and lasting impact on the welfare of the public and the environment; followed by many others: Wisconsin Idea Award; Distinguished Service Award; Esri Lifetime Achievement Award; Conservation/Environment Award; Bolz Lifetime Stewardship Award; Ten of the Best Award; First recipient of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources/SEWRPC Environmental Corridor Ovation Award; Inaugural Bringing Bioneers to Wisconsin Award; Lifetime Achievement Award, Keeping Greater Milwaukee Beautiful; Excellence in Teaching Fellowship, and many more.
Phil was a member of the Covenant Presbyterian Church, and was a resident of Middleton Glen and Waunakee Manor. The Lewis family wishes to thank the congregation and the staffs of Middleton Glen, Waunakee Manor and St. Mary's Hospital for the amazing care and support that he received.
A celebration of Phil's life will be held on Monday, July 10, 2017, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., at the LUSSIER FAMILY HERITAGE CENTER, 3101 Lake Farm Road, Madison, Wis. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Madison Community Foundation where gifts will be used to support the Friends of the Dane County Parks Endowment (Please identify your gift as a memorial for Phil Lewis, see: https://parks-lwrd.countyofdane.com/GetInvolved/Endowment-Fund, Checks can also be made out to: Friends of Dane County Parks Endowment and mailed to: Andy Lewis, 3302 Glacier Ridge Road, Middleton, WI 53562). The family is being assisted by Cress Funeral Home.