Harry Lewis was born May 27, 1891, in Denver, Colorado. His father was a secretary with the YMCA, and the family moved from Denver to Pueblo, Colorado, and then to Brooklyn and finally Manhattan in New York. He attended DeWitt Clinton High School in New York City, after which, he enrolled in Wesleyan University, where he received bachelor of science and master of science degrees in 1912 and 1913, respectively. He earned his doctorate at the University of Illinois in 1916.
Mr. Lewis joined the research staff of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Bureau of Chemistry in Washington, D.C., and then the research department of the National Analine and Chemical Company, Buffalo, New York, where he helped develop the post-World War I dye industry in the United States. He taught organic chemistry at Grinnell and Cornell colleges in Iowa and also taught courses at Ohio Wesleyan University and the University of Maine.
In 1930, following The Institute of Paper Chemistry’s founding in 1929, Mr. Lewis was invited by Henry Wriston, president of Lawrence College and a member of the board of directors of the Institute, to join the staff as professor of organic chemistry. At that time, there were two students and one other faculty member, Otto Kress. Courses were also given by five Lawrence College professors. From 1933 to 1956, Mr. Lewis served at the Institute as dean and research associate, where he led the development of academic programs. In 1956, he retired as dean and became vice president; he then assumed emeritus status.
One of his most outstanding contributions to the paper industry was the enthusiastic selling to college students of the career opportunities in the industry. For many years, he was touring speaker for the American Chemical Society, visiting more than 200 colleges and universities.
Mr. Lewis was a member of TAPPI, serving as chair of the fundamental research committee for 25 years. He then became chair of the research and development division. He was a member of the executive committee from 1952 to 1954. He was also a member of the American Chemical Society, where he chaired the division of cellulose chemistry and the division of chemical education. Mr. Lewis represented the latter on the American Association for the Advancement of Science Cooperative Committee on the Teaching of Science. He served on several national research council committees. In his free time, Mr. Lewis was active in the YMCA on local, regional, and national levels.
Mr. Lewis, who authored numerous publications and was awarded 31 patents, received the Mitscherlich Award of the German Pulp and Paper Association in 1955; the TAPPI Gold Medal in 1956; and the Scientific Apparatus Makers Award in Chemical Education from the American Chemical Society in 1959. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Mr. Lewis died on November 17, 1969. He and his wife, Mildred, also deceased, had two daughters, Jean and Helen; three sons, Harry Jr. (deceased); Ben; and David; and 13 grandchildren.