At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Trinity Reformed Church Building Fund
1224 Davis Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Life Story / Obituary
Born December 2, 1962, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Timothy Gordon brought much hope and happiness to his loving parents, Gordon Gerald and Alice Suzanne (Rooks) Lewis. Tim’s outgoing and adventurous spirit could be seen in his early years. His parents were hard-workers and they both worked professional jobs outside the home. When Gordon’s mother became ill with pancreatic cancer, they stepped in to manage the family farm. Farming was a busy lifestyle for them and young Tim was often rambunctious. Sometimes he was even tied to a post in the yard so they could keep an eye on him! His childhood was eventful. He also spent several months in a hospital bed in the middle of the living room, after breaking his femur from being tackled while playing American Eagle.
Tim was the oldest brother of the four siblings and they were very close. As a family, they enjoyed countless vacations. They often traveled by car throughout the Midwest visiting family. One such trip was taken while Tim was ill. He remembered being stuck in the back of the family station wagon driving for hours. At their destination, he was inflicted with a large painful shot with an enormous needle. One of the family’s favorite vacations was camping at Interlochen State Park. They spent their days swimming and biking while at night they enjoyed soft-serve ice cream cones around the bonfire and listening to the sounds of the Interlochen Fine Arts music camp.
Not to be forgotten was the meeting of his loving wife, Francene. They met during their years together at Calvin College. Starting as friends, they began to date spending time at the Woodland Mall video arcade playing Ms. Pacman and Xevious, and enjoying cheddar dogs with shredded pickles from Yesterdog. Francene went on to study Library Science at the University of Michigan where Tim visited her on the weekends. After a couple of years of dating, they joined in marriage on May 8, 1987, at the Calvin Theological Seminary Chapel. They honeymooned at beautiful Mackinaw City before returning to their west side upper apartment on Tamarack Street.
After saving their money, they purchased a home on Auburn Street while Tim attended Grand Valley State University to obtain his teaching certificate as a special education teacher. Once he graduated, he spent several years as a substitute teacher working throughout the county. Well-liked by the students and staff, he later accepted a position with Grand Rapids Public schools as a resource room special education teacher. Beginning at Campau Park School, he moved about the entire GRPS system as needed, teaching in many buildings from Montessori downtown to Sherwood Park. Most recently, Tim worked for C.A. Frost Environmental Science Academy, also teaching in the LOOP after school program. His students were lucky to have him as he enjoyed sharing his love of the outdoors from tapping maple trees in February for sugaring time to winter camping and spring trips with the students to Muskegon State Park. They always had a good time together and remember well the time when his canoe tipped over on one memorable trip together. Drawing on his own learning challenges, Tim had a passion for working with children who learned differently.
Over the course of their marriage, he and Francene welcomed home three wonderful children; Reuben, Noah, and Eli. As a dad, he shared much of his time with the boys. He enjoyed sharing Saturday morning cartoons over bowls of Captain Crunch cereal and taking them on many unique trips. Some motifs of Tim’s explorations were discovering local fish hatcheries, historical monuments, and nature preserves from Canada, to the Smokey Mountains and on to Custer State Park in South Dakota. Road trips were a staple of every summer. Tim often planned trips that included the most obscure places and remote camping spots. One particularly memorable vacation was their trip with Grandma Lewis on Route 2 from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to Glacier National Park in Montana. They shared many adventures together including their tent being blown over in the stiff winds at Waterton Peace Park, Grandma going face to face with an inquisitive donkey, and then nearly run off the road by a wild buffalo! In the winter months, they continued their adventures along the frigid shoreline of Lake Michigan including Ludington State Park, P.F. Hoffmaster, and drives throughout Michigan stopping for slushies and popcorn at Westco gas stations. For many years he was actively involved with their many sports and theater productions. He wanted nothing more than to share in their every success!
A man of many interests, he enjoyed photographing the family’s trips. He was an avid fan of country-folk music including the artists: Stan Rogers, Johnny Cash, John Denver, John Prine, Arlo Guthrie, and Old Man Luedecke. When it came to reading, he enjoyed the books of Mordecai Richler and Michael Perry. A kid at heart, Tim never stopped loving animated shows, enjoying classic Batman cartoons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Pixar short films, animation film festivals at UICA, and the Simpsons. Tim loved his breakfasts and enjoyed eating out at the New Beginnings Restaurant which he referred to exclusively as “Just Breakfast”. The wait staff knew he would either order Eggs Benedict or biscuits and sausage gravy with his signature unsweetened iced tea. On Saturday nights, Tim enjoyed ordering prime rib dinners at the Halfway House Diner west of Greenville. An excellent cook, Tim would often whip up a good stir fry or a delicious grilled chicken dinner. Tim was also very involved at Trinity Reformed Church on Davis Street. He loved helping serve at the annual Shrove pancake breakfasts, staff the Front Porch carnival, and teach Sunday School even after a long week of work. Even when feeling sick, he enjoyed welcoming people to the church with a warm smile.
Tim was diagnosed with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors in May 2019. Although he had the Whipple procedure to remove the majority of the cancer, it continued to grow and eventually metastasized into his liver and bones. Tim was a fighter. After a bout of radiation in the fall, he continued to enjoy life with his family, weekly walks in the Saul Lake Nature preserve and bog, eating breakfast, and teaching at C.A. Frost. In March, he received chemotherapy to slow the growth of the tumors in his liver. The treatment taxed his weakened body leading to his admission to hospice. He passed away surrounded by his loving family at home, listening to them retell stories of past camping trips and good times while looking out the picture window to the back yard. After his passing, the family discovered this verse underlined in his Bible, “ For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10)
Timothy Gordon Lewis, age 57, of Belmont, passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by his family on April 4, 2020. He was preceded in death by his father, Gordon, and mother-in-law, Mary Morren. Tim is survived by his wife of 33 years, Francene; sons, Reuben (Kate) Lewis, Noah Lewis, and Eli Lewis; mother, Alice (Orv) Pasma; siblings, Stev (Dawn) Lewis, Mark (Christine) Lewis, and Jena (Jennifer) Lewis; father-in-law, James Morren; and many brothers and sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews. Tim was a long-time educator with Grand Rapids Public Schools most recently with C.A. Frost Environmental Science Academy where he shared his love of nature and camping with his students as well as with his family. A private family service will be held and a public remembrance will be held at a later date. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Trinity Reformed Church Building Fund. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to read Tim’s life story, submit a favorite memory, photo, or to sign the guestbook online.