Cover photo for Jerry Lewis's Obituary
Jerry Lewis Profile Photo
1934 Jerry 2021

Jerry Lewis

October 21, 1934 — July 15, 2021

Services will be held for former congressman Jerry Lewis at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 5, at the University of Redlands Memorial Chapel.
Lewis, who represented the Redlands area in Congress from 1979 to 2013, died Thursday, July 15, in his Redlands home. He was 86.
U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert, a fellow Southern California Republican, announced the news last week. “Congressman Jerry Lewis was one of the most influential Californians to ever serve in the U.S. House of Representatives,” said Calvert, who was elected to the House of Representatives in 1993. “Jerry made an enormous impact on his district, the state of California and our nation throughout a life dedicated to public service.”
San Bernardino County Supervisor Dawn Rowe tweeted that Lewis “will be remembered as one of the most influential lawmakers in the history of our region.”

Claremont McKenna College political scientist Jack Pitney, who worked for Lewis in the mid-1980s, tweeted that he “embodied civility and bipartisanship.”
“He wanted to get stuff done. He wanted to make laws, not just (political) points,” Pitney said in an interview.
Heading the powerful House spending committee from 2005 to 2007, Lewis funneled federal dollars to his favored projects through so-called earmarks, which are spending orders slipped into legislation. His district included portions of San Bernardino and Riverside counties, east of Los Angeles.
Those earmarks helped pay for the creation of a cancer research center at Loma Linda University Medical Center, the Seven Oaks Dam and a massive tree-clearing effort in the San Bernardino National Forest credited with reducing the region’s wildfire danger, the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California, reported in 2012. In fiscal year 2010 alone, he secured nearly $100 million for his district and consistently ranked as one of the country’s leading earmark earners.
Over nearly half a century, Lewis rose from a local school board to become one of the most powerful figures on Capitol Hill, heading the House Appropriations Committee. He retired in 2013.
As a result of his advocacy and support, the Lewis Center for Educational Research in Apple Valley has grown from a small Science and Technology Center to the organization it is today. His support is directly responsible for the development of the Luz Observatory, the GAVRT Partnership with NASA/JPL, and both of our distinguished charter schools, Academy for Academic Excellence and Norton Science and Language Academy. Since 1990, our schools and programs have served tens of thousands of students throughout San Bernardino County and around the world. For this reason, our organization was renamed in his honor in 1998. Congressman Lewis’ advocacy for the students served in High Desert, Inland Empire and beyond is unparalleled. His legacy will always be alive at the Lewis Center through the successes of our students.

Born on Oct. 21, 1934, in Seattle, Lewis graduated from San Bernardino High School in 1952, where he captained the swim team. In 1956 he earned a bachelor’s degree from UCLA. Lewis served as a fellow at the Coro Foundation in San Francisco, which teaches leadership skills. After college, Lewis was in the insurance business.
Lewis served on the San Bernardino City Unified School District from 1964 to 1968. He was on the staff of former U.S. Rep. Jerry Pettis in 1966.
Lewis served in the California Assembly from 1969 to 1978, where he led the effort that established the South Coast Air Quality Management District in 1976.
He ran for the state Senate in a special election in January 1974, losing to Democrat Ruben Ayala.
He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1978, winning with 61% of the vote. He was reelected 16 times, never by less than 61%.
Lewis was chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, serving in that role during the 109th Congress from 2005 to 2007. Lewis secured millions of dollar for projects in San Bernardino County, including $167.2 million for Loma Linda University. In 1998, he secured start-up funding in 1998 for Loma Linda University's Proton Beam treatment center.
He was instrumental in securing $450 million for construction of the Seven Oaks Dam, which was built east of Highland between 1993 to 2000 to prevent flooding of the Santa Ana River in Orange County.
Lewis also helped secure nearly $100 million to the U.S. Forest Service to remove more than a million trees in the San Bernardino National Forest killed by drought and bark beetle infestation.

He also introduced California’s Newsmen’s Shield Law, which provided journalists with immunity from being judged in contempt of court for refusing to disclose unpublished information or the identity of a confidential source
Instead of flowers, Lewis’ family is asking that mourners make donations to the following organizations:
Alzheimer’s Association c/o Blossom Grove Alzheimer’s Special Care Center: 11116 New Jersey St., Redlands, CA 92373
The Lewis Center for Educational Research: The Lewis Center for Educational Research: 17500 Mana Road, Apple Valley, CA 92307

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Jerry Lewis, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, August 5, 2021

Starts at 10:00 am (Pacific time)

University of Redlands Memorial Chapel

1200 East Colton Avenue, Redlands, CA 92374

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